Pakistan said on Friday the national cricket team would travel to India for the World T20 tournament, ending weeks of uncertainty a day after it sought a public assurance on security from Indian authorities.
A public assurance was given by Indian home minister Rajnath Singh. “Why only Pakistan? Whoever comes here, India provides them security. There is no reason to be worried about security here,” Singh said.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan said in Lahore that interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had officially permitted the board to send the team to India.
Diplomatic tensions have meant the two teams have not played any bilateral series for more than three years and their rivalry is restricted to multinational tournaments. They have not played a full series since 2007, though Pakistan toured India late in 2012 for a short limited over series that failed to revive ties fully.
PCB executive committee chairman Najam Sethi said on Friday the team was ready and would “hopefully fly to Dubai tonight and from there leave straight for India”.
“The interior minister has given permission to send the team on the basis of solid assurances received from the chief minister of West Bengal, the Union home secretary and the home minister (in India),” Sethi said.
Khan said the players were given the option to pull out if they felt any security threat but all 15 squad members wanted to play. “We want cricketing ties to remain active. Our hope is that our cricketing relations remain intact,” Khan said.
Earlier, Pakistani high commissioner Abdul Basit had a meeting with Indian home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi. Basit said after the meeting that Mehrishi assured him of the players’ safety and he would send his recommendations to Islamabad.
“We always want that (the Pakistani team coming to India) to happen. Let’s see if Islamabad accepts my recommendations,” Basit told reporters outside North Block.
Pakistan will forego their first warm-up match -- against a local West Bengal team -- on Saturday but will take on Sri Lanka in the second practice match in Kolkata on Monday. Their first match of the tournament will be held at Eden Gardens on March 16 against a qualifier team, followed by a clash against India at the same venue three days later.