LAHORE: Insisting the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) was not playing any politics on the subject of foreign teams’ visit to the country, chairman Zaka Ashraf on Tuesday disclosed that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was ready to send its team to Pakistan only if foolproof security assurance was provided to the visitors by all provincial governments.
Zaka told Dawn that his Indian counterpart N. Srinivasan had expressed his readiness in sending the national team to Pakistan, but since the government of Punjab was not ensuring foolproof security, the PCB was not in a position to invite the Indian team.
Zaka was not ready to accept the security assurance, which was given by Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Rana Mashood who had said that the provincial government was ready to give complete security guarantee to the PCB.
“We cannot accept the security assurance at this level as the matter is highly sensitive and only Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is the right man to ensure it,” Zaka insisted.
“We are not playing politics on this issue. We are even ready to invite Shahbaz Sharif to accompany us to India and Bangladesh to launch joint efforts in convincing foreign teams to tour Pakistan. Since it is a national cause no one should play politics on such matters,” the PCB boss remarked.
To a question, Zaka dispelled the impression that the PCB was trying to please the BCCI by sending ten former Test cricketers to India to witness the Indo-Pak matches, scheduled to be held in December-January.
He stressed that the PCB was not getting monetary or any other kind of benefit for sending its team to India.
“The decision to send the [former] great cricketers to India was taken just to send a goodwill gesture to India and it is wrong that we are getting any benefit by sending the national team to India,” Zaka said.
“In fact, they [Indians] are ready to visit Pakistan. However, at our end we are unable to get foolproof security from the government of Punjab,” he stated.
Zaka revealed that he had contacted different influential persons to get security guarantee from the Punjab government but to no avail.
Asked if international matches could be staged in Karachi and Hyderabad, Zaka said the government of Sindh was ready but argued that the main cricket stadiums were available in Punjab which made it difficult for the PCB to overlook Punjab venues.
“Apart from India three other countries are lined up, waiting for foolproof security guarantee [from us],” he said.
When pointed out that the Punjab government was providing full-fledged security for its international youth festival in which 26 countries were participating in different sports starting from Nov 8, Zaka said unlike a sports festival international cricket contests required special security measures.