ISLAMABAD / LAHORE: Team Pakistan are to take the field in five days for their World Cup warm-up match against New Zealand, but they are yet to be issued Indian visas.
Journalists and fans wanting to attend the event have also failed to obtain visas as the online application portal of the Indian High Commission in Pakistan remained unresponsive.
The application for visas was reportedly made over a week ago, according to ESPNcricinfo. Now, the Pakistan Cricket Board is hoping the matter will be resolved by Monday.
Pakistan only team yet to be issued visas
Due to visa delays, the team has already cancelled its pre-World Cup team bonding event in Dubai. It has also emerged that Pakistan are the only participating team — of the nine teams travelling to India for the event — yet to receive visas.
The team is due to travel to Dubai from Lahore on Sept 27 before flying to Hyderabad, India, to play two warm-up matches — against New Zealand on Sept 29 and Australia on Oct 3.
Earlier, the team was scheduled to leave for Dubai on Sept 25 and stay there for two days. Pakistan will play their first match against the Netherlands on Oct 6. Fans and journalists who intended to attend the tournament had to apply for visas through the Indian High Commission’s website.
The portal, however, remained inaccessible, leaving the aspirants dismayed. Expressing concerns over visa hiccups, a Lahore-based journalist said he and his fellow sports reporters had to get the online forms filled through agents and paid them for a simple process.
Owing to issues with the accessibility of the high commission’s website, visa seekers said they had been advised to use a VPN while accessing the site.
Waqar Abbasi, an Islamabad-based reporter, said the IHC’s website is accessible, but it becomes unresponsive when the “Online Visa Applications Form” under the tab “Pakistani Passport Holders” is clicked.
“I thought there was some issue with my system but later it was revealed that no one can access the online form in the country,” he said, adding the issue was resolved when the website was accessed through a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Sources privy to the problem said the issue was due to some “suspicious activity on the website through the local Internet Service Providers (ISP)”. There were also suggestions that the page may be blocked locally.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority was contacted over the claims, but no response was received.
The Rawalpindi-Islamabad Sports Journalists Association issued a statement, saying that even media persons accredited with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the national governing body of cricket in India, and the International Cricket Council were facing difficulties.
The association appealed to the Indian High Commission to accept hand-filled visa applications if the issue persisted. The media persons should be facilitated as limited time was left at the start of the mega event, the statement added.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This report has been edited for clarity.
Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2023