Pakistan has decided to send its cricket team to India for the 50-over World Cup, which is slated to take place in October and November this year.
“Pakistan has consistently maintained that sports should not be mixed with politics. It has, therefore, decided to send its cricket team to India to participate in the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2023,” said a statement issued by the Foreign Office (FO) on Sunday.
Today’s long-awaited decision follows weeks of doubts about Pakistan’s participation in the World Cup, as the government delayed approving the team’s visit to India citing security concerns.
The FO said in its statement that Pakistan authorities continued to have “deep concerns” about the security of the country’s cricket team in India.
“We are conveying these concerns to the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Indian authorities. We expect that full safety and security of the Pakistan cricket team will be ensured during its visit to India,” the statement read.
It added: “Pakistan believes that the state of bilateral relations with India should not stand in the way of fulfilling its international sports-related obligations.
Pakistan’s decision shows its constructive and responsible approach vis-a-vis India’s intransigent attitude, as the latter had refused to send its cricket team to Pakistan for the Asia Cup.“
Road to World Cup
Pakistan’s participation in the tournament was first put in doubt following a row over the hosting of the Asia Cup, for which India had refused to send its cricket team to the country.
In turn, Pakistan had made its cricket team’s visit to India for World Cup conditional on the Indian team’s visit to the neighbouring country for the Asia Cup.
A truce was eventually called after Pakistan agreed to host the Asia Cup in September on the basis of a hybrid model.
Then in June this year, after the schedule for the World Cup was announced, the Pakistan Cricket Board said that it would still need government clearance for any tour to India, including World Cup match venues.
“The PCB requires the government of Pakistan’s clearance for any tour to India, including the match venues,” PCB Communications Director Sami Ul Hasan had said in a statement.
“We are liaising with our government for guidance. This position is consistent with what we had told the ICC a couple of weeks ago when they shared with us the draft schedule and sought our feedback,” he had added.
Later, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had constituted a committee led by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to deliberate on the matter.
Last week, Inter-provincial Coordination Minister Ehsan-ur-Rehman Mazari told Dawn.com after a meeting of the committee it had been decided that concerns regarding the team’s security would be raised with the ICC.
A guarantee for the team’s security would be sought from the ICC, he had said.
Following today’s approval, Pakistan will now be playing in India for the first time in seven years.