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Miandad urges foreign cricket teams to tour Pakistan

cricket Updated: Nov 23, 2010 14:07 IST

AFP
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Former Pakistan great Javed Miandad has pleaded with foreign teams to tour the troubled Asian nation, saying cricket there is suffering because of the absence of top-level competition.

Pakistan have been forced to play home series overseas because of security fears in the country, where thousands have been killed in suicide attacks and bombings blamed on homegrown Taliban and other Islamist extremist networks.

No foreign side has toured Pakistan since an attack by armed militants on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore last year, which left eight people dead and injured seven visiting players and their assistant coach.

Even before that incident, foreign teams had been refusing to tour Pakistan due to security concerns.

But Miandad, director general of the Pakistan Cricket Board, told AFP that the whole world faced the scourge of terrorism and "nobody can say which place is safe," arguing that if one team came to Pakistan it might get the ball rolling again.

He said cricket in the country was "going backwards, people are losing their interest", adding the game needed help and encouragement from other nations.

"Pakistan is one of the best cricketing nations. We have been world champions. The people of Pakistan love cricket, they have passion and they want to see teams come and play," he said.

Miandad said Pakistan was ready to give assurances over safety which he said would be "200 percent" but he added: "Somebody must take the first step".

"If we give assurances then they should take it because we will be more careful than other countries," he added.

"The whole world is fighting against terrorism but we are the only country which is suffering more than anyone else. We are fighting for the world," Miandad said.

"We need help, especially in sport. They should come forward to help."

Miandad, at the Asian Games in southern China in his capacity as Pakistan's cricket ambassador to China, refused to be drawn over allegations of corruption swirling around the Pakistan team.

"Nobody can say anything at the moment," he said, adding that the investigation into the affair was ongoing and he had confidence in international cricket authorities.

Three Pakistani players -- former Test captain Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer -- were suspended by the International Cricket Council in September this year.

The trio were charged under the ICC's anti-corruption code after they were all named in a News of the World report alleging they were involved in a spot-fixing scam in a summer Test match with England.

A three-man tribunal is due to hear the case against the Pakistani trio in Qatar in January where if found guilty the face severe sanctions, the maximum being life bans.