Pakistan cricket team gets government approval to participate in World T20
A possible pullout of the Pakistan cricket team from the ICC World T20 in India is off the cards after the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Friday approved Pakistan's participation in the tournament.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Shaharyar Khan told reporters in Lahore that the players were given the pullout option if they felt any security threat but all 15 squad members wanted to play in the tournament.
"We want cricketing ties to remain active ... Our hope is that our cricketing relations [between India and Pakistan] remain intact," Khan said.
Meanwhile, Najam Sethi, chairman of the cricket board's executive committee, revealed that the Pakistan High Commissioner in New Delhi Abdul Basit had met Rajnath Singh, Minister of Home Affairs of India, to discuss the matter and was satisfied with the security arrangements put in place.
"Subsequently, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has also approved Pakistan's participation in the T20 World Cup," Sethi said.
"The team is completely ready and hopefully they will fly to Dubai tonight and then from there will leave straight for India," he added.
The breakthrough came after the West Bengal state government issued a "public guarantee" of security to Shahid Afridi's side for their match in Kolkata. Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal, assured in writing 'foolproof security' to the Pakistan team for its match against India.
Cricket Association of Bengal, headquartered in Kolkata, capital city of West Bengal state, operates the Eden Gardens. "Anybody coming to India will be provided security. There is no doubt about it," Singh was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.
Yesterday, addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had reiterated the Government of Pakistan's demand of providing its players a "public" guarantee. "The International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have been very accommodating, but it is the Indian government's security assurance that matters the most," Nisar had said.
The ICC has already moved Pakistan's group match against hosts India to Kolkata on March 19 due to security concerns in Dharamsala.
The first round of the World T20 started on Tuesday. The top eight-ranked nations, including Pakistan, will join the competition from the "Super 10" stage which begins on March 15.
Pakistan is due to play their opening match against a first-round qualifier in Kolkata on March 16.