ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Cricket Board is angry that the international players’ body has advised foreign players against visiting Lahore in March for the Pakistan Super League final.
The Twenty20 league will be played mainly in the United Arab Emirates, but the PCB has scheduled the final for Lahore on March 5.
In case foreign players refuse to go to Lahore, the PCB said it plans to replace them with other willing foreigners.
But a report by the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) warns all foreign players from going to Pakistan for security reasons.
“Indiscriminate and targeted attacks are likely to continue, and expert advice is consistent with all government agencies and diplomatic missions, who generally advise to reconsider the need to travel,” FICA said. “There have been attacks at sporting events, which have had significant security overlay in the past, and terrorist groups in Pakistan have demonstrated the intent and capability to launch attacks anywhere in the country. Locations including luxury hotels are also at high risk of being targeted by militant groups.”
The security risks for foreign players in Pakistan “remain heightened,” FICA executive chairman Tony Irish wrote in an e-mail to the Associated Press. He added they were obliged to pass on security assessments.
Without naming any foreign players, the PCB said the league has received confirmation from top international players who will play in Lahore if their teams qualify.
But the PCB remained extremely disappointed by FICA, and described the report as a “careless and cavalier approach.”
“FICA has done great disservice to the cause of cricket in general and Pakistan cricket in particular by advising players not to play in the PSL final,” the PCB said in a statement. “FICA has cited unnamed expert security consultants for updated security advice that claims Pakistan is at an extremely elevated state of insecurity.
“FICA sits thousands of miles away from Pakistan and cannot name even one credible security expert, yet makes a sweeping negative statement about the security situation in Lahore.
“FICA’s claim that ‘westerners and luxury hotels have been attacked’ is contrary to the facts on the ground that prove that not a single foreigner or hotel has been attacked in Lahore in the last five years.”
The PCB said the government has guaranteed protection by more than 3,000 Army and police personnel in Lahore for the final, and the board will provide armored buses for travel by the teams along with VVIP security.
Pakistan has been trying to regain the confidence of major foreign teams to restart touring Pakistan since the terror attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009 in Lahore.
Among Test-playing nations, only Zimbabwe has toured Pakistan, for three ODIs in 2015. Affiliate members Afghanistan, Kenya, and Hong Kong plus a Malaysian team have also visited.