Pakistan says won’t be ‘blackmailed’ by BCCI, India not ‘safe’ for its cricketers

Special Pakistan says won’t be ‘blackmailed’ by BCCI, India not ‘safe’ for its cricketers
Pakistan’s Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC), Ehsan Ur Rehman Mazari, speaks to Arab News in Islamabad, Pakistan, on July 11, 2023. (AN photo)
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Updated 11 July 2023
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Pakistan says won’t be ‘blackmailed’ by BCCI, India not ‘safe’ for its cricketers

Pakistan says won’t be ‘blackmailed’ by BCCI, India not ‘safe’ for its cricketers
  • Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination accuses India of ‘politicizing’ cricket, says Pakistan a ‘safe country’
  • Mazari says PM Sharif will take final decision on whether Pakistan will travel to India for World Cup 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC), Ehsan Ur Rehman Mazari, said on Tuesday the country’s cricket board would not be “blackmailed” by its Indian counterpart into traveling to India for this year’s 50-overs World Cup, with bilateral cricket stalled between the South Asian neighbors due to soured political relations.

The bitter foes have played each other mostly in multi-team events at neutral venues over the last decade and doubts remain over Pakistan’s involvement in the World Cup in October-November. India had earlier refused to travel to Pakistan for the upcoming Asia Cup prompting Pakistan to split matches with Sri Lanka under a new “hybrid model” for the tournament beginning on August 31.

As per the World Cup schedule released by the ICC, Pakistan will play their first match in India’s Hyderabad city on October 6. But Mazari last week called for a hybrid model and neutral venues for the India tournament also. The head of PCB’s interim Management Committee Zaka Ashraf is currently in Durham for talks with ICC authorities regarding Pakistan’s demand to play at neutral venues in India.

“The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) always blackmails different boards, they even blackmail the ICC,” Mazari, the Pakistani minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) told Arab News, referring to cricket’s governing body in India, the world’s richest cricket board and arguably the most powerful.

“So, we don’t want to get into blackmail anymore. Yes, the BCCI is a rich board, they generate a lot of funds because of media rights but it does not mean that they should twist the arms of every cricket board.”




Pakistan’s Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC), Ehsan Ur Rehman Mazari, speaks to Arab News in Islamabad, Pakistan, on July 11, 2023. (AN photo)

He urged Indian cricket authorities to be “fair” to others. 

“If they think that they can maneuver the ICC because they are the richest board, I’m sorry then, they are mistaken,” Mazari added. 

The minister said Pakistan had tentatively agreed to the schedule released by the ICC, with the condition that the green shirts would also play the 50-over World Cup in India at neutral venues since India was unwilling to travel to Pakistan for the Asia Cup. 

“If India does not want to come to Pakistan and they want to go for the hybrid model, if they want to play on neutral venues, then Pakistan team should also go for the hybrid model [in India],” he said. 

“They [Pakistan] should talk to the ICC and they should tell them that we are not willing to go to India and we want to play at neutral venues because India always politicizes cricket.”

Speaking about a perceived risk for the Indian team in traveling to Pakistan, Mazari said:

“If they [India] have a security risk in Pakistan, so do we [in India] … we have our own security issues for our players regarding playing in India. I don’t think that India is a safe country for our cricketers to play there.”

Mazari said the final decision on whether the Pakistan cricket team would go to India would be taken by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who has constituted a committee headed by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to deliberate on the matter and give recommendations.

“The committee will sit together and everybody will give the recommendations to the honorable prime minister,” Mazari said. “The prime minister is the patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Cricket Board and he is the boss.”