ISLAMABAD (AP) – The chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board has said that New Zealand’s abrupt withdrawal from its tour for security reasons has put an unwelcome question mark over Pakistan’s ability to host international matches.
New Zealand scrapped its Pakistan tour minutes before Friday’s opening game in Rawalpindi after its government issued a security alert. New Zealand media reported that the tour left Pakistan on Saturday aboard a charter flight to the United Arab Emirates.
âThere is a lot of pressure created on Pakistani cricket and (especially) Pakistani cricket at home,â PCB president Ramiz Raja told cricket fans in a video message posted on Saturday.
âThe struggle to survive is the basis on which we challenge the whole world. If such a situation develops (again) while international cricket is under pressure in Pakistan, we will challenge them once again. “
Pakistan were awaiting a decision from the England and Wales Cricket Council this weekend on the fate of short tours scheduled by England’s men’s and women’s teams next month.
The West Indies are also expected in December and Australia in February.
New Zealand Cricket was unwilling to reveal the nature of the security alert, but a Pakistani government minister said New Zealand feared attack outside Rawalpindi stadium.
The New Zealand Foreign Ministry said on Saturday it had alerted the NZC of a “credible and specific” security threat to the New Zealand team.
“New Zealand agencies have provided continuous and consistent advice that Pakistan remains a highly threatened security environment, as stated in the New Zealand government’s travel advisory to Pakistan which notes that there is a significant threat terrorism throughout Pakistan, âthe ministry said in a statement.
“(The Ministry) alerted NZ Cricket to information regarding a specific and credible security threat yesterday. We will not discuss the details of the threat. Decisions regarding the tour were made by NZ Cricket.
“We understand how disappointing this decision will be for Pakistan and its cricket community, just as it will be for NZ Cricket and the Black Caps.”
New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said his government supported the decision to cancel the tour.
âThere was a credible security threat and NZ Cricket responded appropriately,â said Robertson. “As is normal in situations like this, it is not possible or responsible to go into the details of the nature of these threats, but it was credible and had to be taken seriously.”
Raja, who was elected president last Monday, has been frustrated by New Zealand’s unilateral decision to step down after five days in the federal capital and two training sessions at Pindi Cricket Stadium.
He was also upset that New Zealand did not share the security threat with PCB or the Pakistani government. He plans to raise the issue with the International Cricket Council.
Raja is also a renowned cricket commentator, known as the âVoice of Pakistanâ. He called on Pakistani fans to help the team out of this crisis.
âYour pain and my pain are the same, it is a shared pain,â he said. âWhat has happened is not good for Pakistani cricket.â¦ The point is that we have been through this before, but we have to move forward.
Pakistan are set to face New Zealand in the Twenty20 World Cup on October 26 in the United Arab Emirates, and Raja saw it as an opportunity.
âI mean to my cricket team, vent your frustration and anger by doing well (at the World Cup),â Raja said. âWhen you become the best team, everyone will want to play against you.
“We need to learn from it and move on, we don’t need to be disappointed.”
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