Security concerns to be raised with ICC, says minister on cricket team’s travel to India for World Cup

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Inter-provincial Coordination Minister Ehsan-ur-Rehman Mazari on Thursday said Pakistan had security concerns regarding the national cricket team’s travel to India for this year’s 50-over World Cup, adding that the matter would be raised with the International Cricket Council (ICC).

The decision was taken by a committee — which was set up by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif last month — chaired by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.
“We have demanded that the ICC should provide us a guarantee for security,” Mazari told private channel. He said the government also had some reservations regarding some World Cup venues and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) would put these concerns in front of the ICC for a review.

Pakistan and India have played each other only in multi-team events at neutral venues over the last decade as bilateral cricket remains stalled between the South Asian neighbours due to soured political relations.

In June, the ICC revealed the much-awaited World Cup fixtures, with Pakistan scheduled to play arch-rivals India in a marquee clash in Ahmedabad in mid-October. The schedule for the tournament was released nearly two weeks after the draft schedule of matches was shared with the cricket boards of all participating teams.

However, immediately after the announcement, the PCB stated that it would still need government clearance for any tour to India, including World Cup match venues.

“The PCB requires the government of Pakistan’s clearance for any tour to India, including the match venues,” PCB Communications Director Sami Ul Hasan had said in a statement.

“We are liaising with our government for guidance. This position is consistent with what we had told the ICC a couple of weeks ago when they shared with us the draft schedule and sought our feedback,” he had added.

If Pakistan are given the green signal to play in Ahmedabad, that would see them locking horns against India in front of 132,000 spectators at the Narendra Modi Stadium, the world’s largest cricketing venue.

The World Cup is set to be played from Oct 5 to Nov 19.