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Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said on Saturday that the Pakistani Cricket team would not take part in the March 19 Dharamshala League match of the ICC T20 World Cup series till “security clearance” was granted by his government.
His statement comes a day after Home Minister Rajnath Singh offered paramilitary security for the Pakistani cricket team for the Dharamshala match.
Mr. Khan was quoted by Pakistani media as saying that a security team had been constituted that would leave for India on Monday and issue “security clearance” after visiting the venue.
Earlier, Pakistan Cricket Board spokesperson Amjad Bhatti told The Hindu that a mere verbal assurance would not suffice and strong security measures were needed. “We want a guarantee that can be given at the government level. Security agencies should also be involved as they have a proper idea of the threat perception… One paramilitary force alone cannot provide adequate security,” Mr. Bhatti told The Hindu from Lahore.
Meanwhile, the PCB has stopped the India tour of its women’s team until it gets written security assurances.
‘Providing security is a State matter’
BCCI secretary and BJP MP Anurag Thakur has countered Pakistan’s demand for a guarantee from the government for security of its cricket team.
He said providing security to the visiting cricket teams was a State matter. “The International Cricket Council (ICC), the BCCI and the respective State governments are responsible for the security of the match and the players,” he said.
Pakistan has been seeking strong assurances after veterans of the armed forces in Himachal Pradesh threatened to interrupt the India-Pakistan match in Dharamshala. The Pakistan Cricket Board, its spokesperson Amjad Bhatti said, took note of the comments by Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh that the match should not be held as the Pathankot terror attack had created a negative sentiment about cricket with Pakistan among the fans and the war veterans of Himachal Pradesh.
“Virbhadra Singh’s comments surprised us as he belongs to the Congress. The PCB has been humiliated once in the recent past after it agreed to hold the bilateral series following a secret meeting between BCCI and PCB representatives in Dubai. The PCB cannot take chance over the safety and security of the Pakistan players,” prominent political commentator Fawwad Chaudhary told The Hindu from Lahore.
(With inputs from PTI)