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LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Tuesday reacted strongly to Federation of International Cricketers Association’s (FICA) advice to international players not to visit Pakistan to play the final of Pakistan Super League 9PSL) in Lahore on March 5, terming it a disservice to the cause of cricket in general and Pakistan cricket in particular.

The PCB has decided to hold the PSL final in Lahore on March 5 instead of holding in Dubai on March 7. All other matches of PSL, however, will be held in the UAE.

But on Monday FICA advised the players not to go to Pakistan because of security threats despite the fact that the security situation in the country has imporved to a great extent.

“FICA has done great disservice to the cause of cricket in general and Pakistan cricket in particular by advising players not to play in the PSL final in Lahore in March because of “security reasons”, the PCB said through a press statement issued here on Tuesday.

“FICA has cited unnamed “expert security consultants” for “updated security advice” that claims Pakistan is “at an extremely elevated state of insecurity.”

“This is a careless and cavalier approach to an issue of great importance. FICA sits thousands of miles away from Pakistan and cannot name even one credible security expert, yet it makes a sweeping negative statement about the security situation in Lahore,” said the PCB statement.

“FICA’s claim that “westerners and luxury hotels have been attacked” is contrary to the facts on the ground which prove that not a single foreigner or hotel has been attacked in Lahore in the last five years.

“FICA’s claim that “targeted attacks” are predicted to continue is belied by the fact that Lahore is the show piece of the government that has secured the services of UK-based “safe city” security project,” the PCB further stated.

“PCB has hosted Kenya, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh (women’s team), Afghanistan and Malaysian cricket teams in Lahore and Karachi without any problem or untoward incident. In the case of holding the PSL final in Lahore for one day, the government has guaranteed protection by over 3000 army and police personnel in Lahore. PCB will provide armored buses for travel along with VVIP security protocols.

“It may also be noted that a group of notable foreign players including Jonty Rhodes, Brian Lara, Curtly Ambrose, Glenn McGrath, Dean Jones, Mark Butcher, Marvin Atapattu, Herschelle Gibbs, Damien Martyn, Andy Roberts, Danny Morrison, Sanath Jayasuriya, Andrew Symonds, Ajay Jadeja, Robin Smith, Cameron Delport and others are regular visitors to Pakistan on assignments with PTV and are available to vouchsafe the safety and security of foreign cricketers in the country,” added the press statement.

“PSL has already received confirmation from top international players to play in Lahore and the PCB is determined to bring international cricket back to Pakistan.”

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2017