The Pakistan government on Thursday allowed its cricket team to participate in next month’s World Twenty20 in India but has requested “special security arrangements” for the side during the event.
Ending weeks of speculation on the matter, Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Shaharyar Khan said the government had given the approval to travel for the showpiece which begins March 8.
“I am pleased that our Government has given its consent for our team to visit India. As a duty of care, we have asked ICC to put in place special arrangements for the Pakistan cricket team while in India,” Khan said in a press release.
The PCB had said it would only tour India for the ICC event if it got clearance from the government, claiming that there were “real threats” to Pakistani players in India.
He had also confirmed if Pakistan pulled out of the World event, it would have to pay a penalty to the ICC.
Khan had also revealed that the PCB had given a proposal to the ICC to stage Pakistan’s World T20 matches at a neutral venue in the event the government did not allow the team to tour.
Pakistan will take on a qualifier on March 16 before facing off against India at Dharamsala on March 19 in the World T20’s most anticipated clash.
Hundreds of Pakistani fans are expected to travel for the fixture and the PCB chairman has requested the ICC to accommodate them
“We will also be expecting visa facilitation and other arrangements for the Pakistani fans wishing to visit India for the ICC World T20 2016,” the PCB said.
Earlier, BCCI Secretary Anurag Thakur had assured that security would be foolproof for all the participating teams, including Pakistan, and no side should feel insecure about travelling to India.
“BCCI will organise the World Cup in the nicest possible way and will provide every team with highest protection.
Earlier also we have hosted many World Cups and international matches and I don’t think any country should feel insecure here,” Thakur had said when asked about Pakistan’s security worries.
The PCB had initially hinted that Pakistan might withdraw from the upcoming event if the Pakistan government did not permit them to tour India.
There were also reports that the PCB was also under pressure because of the ICC’s threat of legal action in case of a withdrawal from the event.
The matches of the tournament will be spread over seven Indian cities and Pakistan will play their league matches in Kolkata, Dharamsala and Mohali.
Former Pak players welcome decision
Pakistan’s cricket community has welcomed the government’s decision to allow the national team to take part in next month’s World Twenty20 in India, saying the move will help improve relations between the two countries.
“It is a positive step forward in Indo-Pak relations and our government has shown again it does not believe in mixing sports with politics,” Pakistan’s former captain Rashid Latif told PTI.
“It was imperative for Pakistan to take part in the ICC event as we are an important part of the world cricket community,” Latif said.
Former captain Muhammad Yousuf told PTI he hoped that the Indian government and board would now reciprocate in the same positive manner.
“I think if Pakistan can travel to India for an ICC event than the two countries can also take part in a bilateral series in Pakistan or India. The two boards must try to have a bilateral series this year,” Yousuf said.
There was a lot of suspense over whether the PCB would get clearance from the government to go to India owing to the volatile political ties between the two nations.
Former Test opener and ex-chief coach, Mohsin Khan said he was happy to hear the news that Pakistan would got to India.
“It is a good sign and it should be built upon. Cricket is necessary between both countries as it only helps the teams improve their cricket and skills,” Mohsin said.
Former Test leg-spinner Danish Kaneria said he had always enjoyed touring India.
“I went to India and I can tell you they left no stone unturned to ensure we got the best security and we faced no problems at all. As far as the Indian people are concerned they have always been hospitable and they will welcome the Pakistan team,” Kaneria said.
“I would love to see the day when we can have Indian players in our super league and our players going for the IPL,” he said.
Pakistan’s former Test captain Ramiz Raja said he had always been a big believer in having Indo—Pak cricket relations.
“I must congratulate the PCB and our government for handling this situation maturely. I think our board and government have always shown they are keen to have normal cricket relations with India,” he noted.