Sri Lanka optimistic about saving Pakistan tour

Sri Lankan cricketer Lasith Malinga, left, celebrates with teammates after dismissing Bangladesh captain Tamim Iqbal during the first One Day International (ODI) cricket match between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh at the R.Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on July 26, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 18 September 2019

Sri Lanka optimistic about saving Pakistan tour

  • Sri Lanka Cricket expresses satisfaction over security arrangements
  • Ten senior players had opted out of the tour citing security concerns

Colombo: Sri Lanka’s cricket board remains hopeful of going ahead with its tour of Pakistan but will await the final all-clear from the defense ministry, an official said Wednesday.
Sri Lanka Cricket Secretary Mohan de Silva said he was satisfied with the security arrangements of their hosts, but reports last week of a possible terror attack had been referred to the defense ministry for investigation.
The Sri Lanka team was the target of an attack during a Test match in Pakistan’s Lahore in March 2009. Six Sri Lankan players were injured when gunmen attacked their bus. Six Pakistan policemen and two civilians were killed.
Since the attack, a majority of international teams have refused to tour the South Asian country.
Sri Lanka played one T20 match against Pakistan at Lahore in October 2017.
De Silva told AFP: “Earlier last month I visited Pakistan along with our security consultant and we were satisfied with the arrangements.
“They have promised security reserved for a head of state.”
The six-match tour, due to start on September 27, was put on hold last week after Sri Lanka’s prime minister’s office warned the board that it had unspecified information about a possible attack against its players.
Sri Lanka Cricket did not call off the tour, but instead asked the government to reassess the security situation and make a final determination about the fate of the tournament.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has said it was not aware of any information relating to the safety of the Sri Lankan team, but has reiterated its commitment to provide security.
Ten senior players have opted out of the tour citing security concerns.
Sri Lanka has already announced two squads for the three One-Day Internationals and the three T20 matches starting September 27.


Pakistan ‘wants to play its role’ for peace in Middle East – FO

Updated 12 January 2020

Pakistan ‘wants to play its role’ for peace in Middle East – FO

  • Work on foreign minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United States being done
  • Pakistan’s strong relations with regional countries has made it an important player

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated on Thursday that the country was going to play its role in restoring peace in the Middle East by working with other international stakeholders in the region.

“Pakistan welcomes de-escalation and wants to play its role in ensuring peace and stability in the region. We have seen that indication in United States President [Donald] Trump’s speech and are evaluating its contours,” the country’s foreign office spokesperson, Aisha Farooqui, said in her weekly media briefing in Islamabad on Thursday.

She said that Pakistan’s geographical position, along with its strong relations with regional countries and the United States, had made it a significant player in the Middle East.

“Pakistan has maintained that war is not the solution to any issue and made it clear that it will not become part of any regional conflict,” she said.

The spokesperson noted that Islamabad had enhanced its efforts to defuse tensions in the region and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had contacted his counterparts in Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and many other important states in this connection.

“All the international players, including Saudi Arabia, have said that the region cannot afford another war and asked for restraint from both parties [the US and Iran]. It’s a collective objective of all countries to ensure peace and stability in the Middle East,” she said.

Commenting on the foreign minister’s upcoming visit to Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the US, she said that “work on these tours has already started and they will take place as soon as dates are finalized with the respective countries.”

“We are very mindful for our brotherly and friendly relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other regional countries. Pakistan and the US also enjoy longstanding relations and have contacts with each other through multiple forums including political and military leadership,” Farooqui said, adding that the foreign office had established a task force to continuously monitor the situation in the Middle East and inform the government about it along with its suggestions on a daily basis.

The spokesperson expressed hope that recent developments in the Middle East would not affect the ongoing Afghan peace process.

“Pakistan hopes that progress made on Afghan peace process will not come to a halt and the world community will not lose its focus as a result of the ongoing tensions in the Middle East,” she said.

Asked about the safety of Pakistani nationals in Iraq, she said the country’s embassy in Baghdad was on the alert to deal with any emergency situation.

“We are concerned about the safety of Pakistani citizens in Iraq and have issued an advisory in this regard. We have also instructed our mission in Baghdad to remain vigilant to deal with any emergency,” Farooqui said.