Islamabad: The Pakistan government on Friday officially decided to send the national men’s and women’s cricket teams to India to take part in the ongoing World Twenty20 tournament.
The national cricket teams are scheduled to fly to India on Friday night, Geo TV quoted sources here as saying.
The decision came after Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the Pakistan cricket team will be provided adequate security during their World Twenty20 campaign in India.
“Whosoever will come to India will be secured,” Rajnath told reporters in Ghaziabad, near the Indian capital.
The state government in West Bengal and Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar have also promised special security measures for the Pakistan men’s team during their Super 10 Group 2 tie against India at the Eden Gardens on March 19, which also played a major part in the decision.
Pakistan high commissioner to India Abdul Basit also had a meeting with officials in the Indian home ministry in New Delhi after which the decision to send the national men’s and women’s teams was announced.
“(The meeting was) In connection with the forthcoming ICC World T20 tournament in India. The discussions were positive. The home secretary conveyed the high commissioner of Pakistan that all necessary arrangements are being made for all participating countries as appropriate including for security of all the participants concerned. Home secretary reiterated that as in the past, all participants will be looked after and there is no cause for concern,” India’s external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said after the meeting.
“All necessary arrangements including those for security have been made in the past for all international sporting events organised in India. We are confident that the ICC World T20 will also be a resounding success in all aspects,” he added.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had also asserted that it will take full responsibility for the safety and security of all players and officials who participate in the World T20.
Najam Sethi, who is the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) executive committee, said on Friday that Federal Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan has conveyed to the board that the government is willing to send the national team to India.
“We have got the assurances we had wanted from India about the security around the Pakistan teams. Chaudhry Nisar said that the government has received solid assurances from the Indian home ministry so we can send our teams to India. Solid assurances from chief minister West Bengal Mamata Banerjee, Home Secretary of India and the Home Minister of India also played a crucial role in taking the final decision,” Sethi told the media.
“The team is completely ready and hopefully they will fly to Dubai either tonight or tomorrow morning and then from there will leave straight for India,” he added.
PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan said that the players were given the option to pullout of the prestigious tournament if they felt that their security will be under threat in India. But all 15 members of the national squad wanted to play in the tournament.
“We want cricketing ties to remain active. Our hope is that our cricketing relations [between India and Pakistan] remain intact,” Khan told reporters in Lahore.
The Pakistan men’s team is currently in Lahore, while the women’s team is in Karachi.
The Pakistan government had demanded a written assurance from India on providing foolproof security to the Pakistan players after protests by serving and retired soldiers of the Indian Army and political leaders in Himachal Pradesh forced the International Cricket Council (ICC) to shift the group match against hosts India from Dharamsala to Kolkata.
The Pakistan team was originally scheduled to depart for India on Tuesday evening. But the departure was delayed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) as they awaited the report of a three-member team sent to review security arrangements in India.
After the ICC announced on Wednesday that the India-Pakistan match has been shunted out of Dharamsala, the PCB had said on Thursday that the team will be allowed to leave for the World T20 early on Friday. But the team’s departure was further postponed later on Thursday when the Pakistan government insisted on written assurances from the Indian authorities.
The delay has affected the Pakistan team’s preparations for the World T20 as the warm-up game against the Bengal state team, which was scheduled for Saturday has been cancelled.
On Thursday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had written to Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president Sourav Ganguly, assuring that the state government would take necessary security measures for the India-Pakistan Super 20 Group 2 match on March 19.
In the letter, the chief minister has also asked Ganguly to convey her message to the ICC and the BCCI.
Indian State Minister for Home Kiren Rajiju had also said that the government was ready to provide additional security to the Pakistan team. However, he had added that issuing a written assurance in this regard was not possible.
India had also threatened legal action if the Pakistan team pulled out of the tournament as they claimed that all possible security arrangements are in place for holding the mega event.