RAWALPINDI: Keeping in view India’s rigid stance over the Asia Cup scheduled to be hosted by Pakistan later this year, the government so far has not given its go-ahead to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for national team’s participation in the 2023 ODI World Cup being staged in India, and has reserved its decision in this regard, Dawn has learnt.
The Asia Cup 50-over event is scheduled to be hosted by Pakistan in September, around a month before the 10-nation World Cup starts in India.
Sources in the federal government and the PCB told Dawn that when the Board last week sought government’s permission for the World Cup participation, the government did not give its go-ahead and decided to wait till India’s final decision regarding its participation in the six-team Asia Cup.
“You can’t say that we are going to boycott the upcoming World Cup [in India]. However, the government so far has not given us any assurance or permission. The government, it seems, before taking any final decision, will wait for India’s response regarding the Asia Cup,” a source in the PCB said.
The International Cricket Council’s Board of Governors meeting is taking place in Dubai on March 20, in which the PCB will share the government’s stance and concerns over India’s approach towards the Asia Cup, the source added.
According to sources, since the government has not flatly refused its team’s participation in the World Cup in India and only held the decision in this regard because of the Asia Cup issue, the PCB meanwhile will take appropriate steps required for Pakistan’s smooth participation in the global event. Therefore, the PCB during the upcoming ICC meeting will also seek tax exemptions. Furthermore, it will request the game’s world governing body to ensure timely issuance of visas for the team, media and fans.
After attending the ICC meeting, PCB Interim Management Committee chairman Najam Sethi next day will participate in the executive board meeting of the Asian Cricket Council, in which he will share the details of arrangements being made by the country for hosting the Asia Cup.
The PCB chief in the meeting will also convey to the ACC that Pakistan welcomes all participating teams of the Asia Cup for which the country will provide top-class facilities.
It is relevant to note here that the Pakistan government is also considering pulling out of the Asia Cup if the country is stripped of the tournament’s hosting rights.
In October last year, doubts were raised over Pakistan’s status as the Asia Cup hosts after Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Jay Shah, who is also ACC president, claimed the tournament would be held at a neutral venue because Indian team wouldn’t travel to Pakistan for the continental event.
Pakistan responded by threatening to withdraw from the 2023 World Cup in India, and is also mulling that if the venue is shifted, the country will not participate in this event.
“Sports should be kept separate from politics. Pakistan is one of the best cricket hosts in the world. Even right now, international women players are enjoying cricket in our country. Moreover, the eighth edition of HBL Pakistan Super League, which is one of the world’s top franchise-based league, is in progress here. Therefore, one can [simply] laugh at India’s stance that their team cannot tour Pakistan [for the Asia Cup],” said a government official.
Published in Dawn, March 12th, 2023
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