ICC World Twenty20: Pakistan to send security team, participation still in doubt

Pakistan will now take a final call on their visit after the security team submits its report.

ICC World Twenty20: Pakistan to send security team, participation still in doubt
Shaharyar Khan

Islamabad/New Delhi: Pakistan's participation in the high-profile T20 World Cup continued to remain under a cloud of uncertainty after its government on Friday decided to send a security team to assess the situation in India, further delaying the possibility of an early resolution to the stalemate.

On yet another day of hectic activities, a concerned Pakistani government which had initially given the go ahead for the team's participation in the March 8-April 3 mega-event, will now take a final call on their visit after the security team submits its report.

The decision to send a security team was taken after a meeting between Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan who called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad, ignoring the assurances of foolproof security by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Prime Minister Sharif directed the ministry to send an advance security team to India for a review of the situation.

"The Prime Minister directed the Interior Minister to ensure foolproof security measures for the cricket team in India in coordination with Pakistani High Commissioner in Delhi," the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

The BCCI, on its part, assured foolproof security to Pakistan, a day after the PCB threatened to pull out of the tournament citing safety concerns.

"As far as the BCCI is concerned, foolproof security will be provided to Pakistan. They should not worry about the security arrangements. Now the decision has to be taken by the PCB (if they want to come or not). They are accountable to the ICC (world body). The PCB should decide on the matter but we will be providing foolproof security to their players," top BCCI functionary Rajeev Shukla said.

On PCB seeking a written assurance from the Indian government, Shukla said "how can we talk on behalf of the government?"

A cloud also hangs over the marquee match between India and Pakistan in Dharamsala on March 19 with Himachal Pradesh's ex-servicemen protesting against the game in the wake of the Pathankot terror attacks in January.

Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Shaharyar Khan said, "The situation now is that only after this security team gives the okay can we send the team to India."

"The government has given us clearance to play in the World T20 but after the security concerns surrounding the Pakistan and India match in Dharamsala a report was given to the Prime Minister," Shaharyar added.

A day after BCCI secretary and BJP MP Anurag Thakur said he was hopeful of the match happening in the hill station following his meeting with Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, Congressman Shukla too spoke to the CM of the Congress-ruled Himachal on the controversial matter.

"I have spoken to the HP CM and he has assured us of putting all the necessary arrangements in place," he said.

On the protests by ex-servicemen in the state, Shukla added: "We sympathise with the protesters and that is why on bilateral matches with Pakistan, we have not taken any decision. But this is a world event. Because of the humongous logistical challenge, it is difficult to change the venue now".

India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh also said central paramilitary forces will be provided to ensure security to the much-awaited March 19 clash between India and Pakistan.

"If the (Himachal Pradesh) Chief Minister asks for security forces, we will provide," he told reporters here.

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