The grandstanding between India and Pakistan over the security of the Pakistan cricket team and fans for the World Cup T20 cricket tournament is set to go down to the wire.
While Indian officials termed as political posturing Pakistan’s condition of ‘explicit assurance’ of security, their Pakistan counterparts consider their stance legitimate. Both sides seemed unwilling to blink on Thursday.
Indian officials said the Pakistan team was convinced of all the aspects of security—on the ground, hotel and convoy arrangements for players’ vehicles — satisfactory.
“Their only concern was Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s statement on being unable to give security to the team,” said an official. He said that since the venue was shifted from Dharamsala to Kolkata and Virbhadra welcomed it, the matter should have ended there.
But Pakistan officials said nothing could have stopped the Indian government from giving a statement on security to the team and fans, either through a senior official or the home minister. They also said the request for a meeting between the Pakistan high commissioner and Union home minister Rajnath Singh was kept pending from Sunday.
According to Indian officials, such conditions are very political in nature and unprecedented in case of sporting events, where country-specific security assurances are unheard of.
Pakistan interior minister, Chaudhary Nisar Khan, said, “The Indian government should guarantee foolproof security to the team. If (we are) not assured (of this), then the team would not go.”
Since anything to do with Pakistan could be a political issue, the Indian government is walking a tightrope on these demands.
“I would like to draw your attention to the fact that all necessary arrangements, including those for security, have been made in the past for all international sporting events organised in India,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swaroop said.
“We have done the best possible security arrangements and if they do not come now, we will have to take the legal route. It will be very unjustified if they do not come,” he said.