- Two-member team reaches India to review security situation ahead of Pakistan team’s participation in T20 World Cup
Days after the chief minister of Indian state of Himachal Pradesh refused to provide security for a World T20 tie featuring Pakistan, PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan said on Monday evening that Pakistani team was willing to play in Mohali, Chandigarh and Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
Earlier in the morning, a two-member team from Pakistan reached India to review the security situation ahead of a possible visit by the Pakistan cricket team for participation in the ICC T20 World Cup which kicks off in Kolkata on March 16.
The team comprises Federal Investigation Agency Director Usman Anwar and Pakistan Cricket Board Chief Security Officer Retired Col Azam Khan, and is expected to be joined in New Delhi by a Pakistan High Commission official.
The officials will assess whether the security situation is suitable for the visit by the cricket team, amid threats from Indian extremist and militant organisations. During the visit, they will meet senior Indian security officials and assess the lodging and boarding arrangements for the players.
Last Sunday, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh threatened not to provide security for Pakistan’s players at the Himachal Pradesh cricket ground in the Himalayan town of Dharamsala, saying the match should be moved to another venue out of respect for those killed in an assault by militants on the Pathankot air force base in neighbouring Indian Punjab.
Pakistan government’s scepticism appears to be justified after the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh refused to provide security for Pakistani players.
“The team will meet the Himachal Pradesh chief minister and the state police chief and prepare a report which will be sent to the PCB and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar,” said a statement released here the other day.
In a press conference on Saturday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar had said that the threats to the Pakistani cricketers were credible and hinted that its scheduled departure for India could be delayed until the security officials’ delegation gave its clearance.
“The trip can be delayed until we are sure that they will be safe. We want to ensure our team is provided complete security in India and this is the responsibility of the Indian government and the International Cricket Council,” he had said.
Earlier, former skipper and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan said that the Pakistani cricket team should not participate in the tournament following the chief minister’s refusal to provide security.
“Amid this situation, I don’t believe the Pakistan team should play in Himachal Pradesh,” he said in a statement.
Indian cricket board secretary Anurag Thakur earlier accused the state of playing politics and said the country regularly provided security for Pakistani sportsmen and women.
“The venues of the World Cup matches were decided one year ago, the allotment of matches was decided six months ago,” said Thakur.
“By claiming that you cannot provide security, you are only giving credence to Pakistani claims that there is a security threat to their team in India. It’s about the country’s image.”