Islamabad: The Pakistan government on Thursday declined to send the national men’s and women’s teams for the World Twenty20 until the Indian government publicly guarantees “foolproof security” for Pakistani players and fans during the tournament.
“The ICC and the BCCI have been very accommodating, but it is the Indian government’s security assurance that matters the most. Thus far, there has been no such indication from them,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar told the media here on Thursday.
“Pakistan will not go to India until foolproof security assurance from India (is provided). There are threats to the Pakistan team in India … (with) groups threatening to disrupt Pakistan’s match. How can we play in such situation,” he added.
(Also Read: ICC World T20: Pakistan team to travel to India)
Earlier on Thursday, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had announced that it was ready to send the team to India as the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had decided to shift the Super 10 Group 2 clash between India and Pakistan from Dharamsala to Kolkata.
“The Pakistan team is likely to leave on Friday for Dubai and then to Kolkata to take part in the World T20,” a PCB official was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune.
PCB chairman Shahryar Khan spoke with the Pakistan players on Thursday and told them to remain focused on the game. Khan told the players that the current situation is similar to the conditions in 1999 when the team went on a tour of India and came back victorious.
The national team was originally scheduled to leave for India on Tuesday evening. But concerns over security in Dharamsala, which was supposed to host the match on March 19, prompted the PCB to postpone the departure as they awaited the final report of a three-member security delegation.
The ICC and the BCCI had announced on Wednesday that the tie has been shifted to Kolkata due to vehement opposition from serving and retired personnel of the Indian Army and political leaders in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.
The state ex-servicemen association had threatened widespread demonstrations against hosting the Pakistan team as a large number of serving and retired soldiers as well as martyrs and war heroes hail from Kangra district, where Dharamsala is located.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh had also stated that the administration will not be able to provide adequate security for the event. Although the Indian government was willing to provide paramilitary forces to secure the match venue, the ICC was not convinced of the level of security which prompted the shift.
The match faces a security threat in Kolkata as well, with the Anti-Terrorist Front of India (ATFI) threatening to dig up the pitch at Eden Gardens on Wednesday. The ATFI has been opposing hosting of the Pakistan team until the terror masterminds behind the Mumbai, Pathankot and the recent Pampore attacks are handed over to India by Pakistan.