Dhaka: Bangladesh cricket team`s planned Pakistan tour later this month was on Thursday suspended by the High Court here for four weeks due to security reasons. "Suspend the tour for four weeks," said an order issued by a two-member bench responding to a petition challenging the cricket board`s decision to send the national team to Pakistan, where it was set to take part in two matches.
Bangladesh team was set to play a one-dayer on April 29 and a Twenty20 international the next day at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore in the first full international matches in Pakistan since March 2009, when Sri Lankan cricketers and officials were attacked by gunmen in Lahore.
The High Court bench comprising judges Farid Ahmed and Sheikh Hassan Arif questioned the legality of decision to send Bangladesh cricketers on a short trip despite the security risks and ordered the Sports Ministry Secretary and chiefs of National Sports Council chief and Bangladesh Cricket Board to justify the decision in the meantime.
A Supreme Court lawyer and a private university professor challenged the decision citing security concerns as Pakistan Cricket Board was yet to provide a "security plan" for the Bangladesh team`s tour as demanded by International Cricket Council (ICC).
"Pakistan is not safe for any foreign teams now. Their own media including their English daily Dawn says so. For that reason, no country agrees to play there. Under the same circumstances, we should not go there also," the petition read.
Bangladesh had earlier agreed to tour Pakistan for the first time as foreign teams shunned the country since the attack on Sri Lankan cricketers, which had killed six Pakistani policemen. Several Sri Lankan players were also wounded in the incident, which led to matches at the 2011 World Cup being taken away from Pakistan.
Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Zaka Ashraf had earlier thanked the Bangladesh Cricket Board and the government for their support for the tour saying "since last year we have been trying our best to convince international teams to tour Pakistan."
"This tour by Bangladesh should eventually help us convince other boards that it is safe to play in Pakistan (as) the situation has gradually improved in Pakistan and we will provide the best security arrangements for the Bangladesh team with the cooperation of the government," he had said.
The ICC board had asked the PCB to immediately provide a comprehensive security plan. On receipt of the plan the ICC Anti Corruption and Security Unit was supposed to commission a localised risk assessment to determine if the officials and staff are appropriately protected by the proposed security plan. Last month, cricket`s world governing body said it may waive its requirement for neutral match officials if the proposed series went ahead.
First Published: Thursday, April 19, 2012, 17:59