Pakistan says no to cricket series with India, cites security issues

The chances of reviving one of sport’s greatest rivalries virtually ended on Thursday, November 19, after Pakistan denied its cricket team the permission to play in India citing security concerns, scuttling plans for a proposed bilateral tournament in December.

The two countries are also unlikely to play in the United Arab Emirates as proposed by Islamabad as the Indian government is not expected to give permission due to the presence of al Qaeda and the Islamic State in West Asia.

“The Pakistani government position is that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) cannot play in India without the government’s permission which has not been given. The government raised security and safety issues for the PCB regarding playing in India,” Najam Sethi, the chief of the PCB’s executive committee, told HT.

Ties between the two cricket boards have soured in recent months over the BCCI’s dogged refusal to play in the UAE, which acts as the home venue for the Pakistan cricket team after a 2009 terror attack on the visiting Sri Lankan team.

“I don’t know why India doesn’t want to play in the UAE. It recently played IPL matches there. We are waiting for a fresh proposal from the BCCI. But our position is clear. We are not going to play in India,” Sethi insisted.

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The PCB has also threatened if the BCCI failed to honour its so-called commitment, the matter would be taken to the International Cricket Council, which is currently headed by Indian cricket board chief Shashank Manohar.

Newly-elected BCCI president Manohar recently called Khan, asking if Pakistan was willing to play in India so that the board could begin the process of obtaining clearances from the government.

“There were lots of talks with Mr Khan on various issues. But nothing was discussed officially. Also, the BCCI has not written to the government seeking a clearance for a series with Pakistan,” Manohar Told HT.

India and Pakistan last time played a full series in 2007, before ties were suspended after the 26/11 terror strikes that killed 166 people amid evidence that the attack was planned from the neighbouring country. However, Pakistan visited India for a short limited-over series in December 2012.

Cricket between the two countries rank among the fiercest rivalries in the world but also often evoke political reactions, especially from the Shiv Sena, which has opposed any Pakistani presence in India.

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