Lanka tour to Pakistan is on: Butt
Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ejaz Butt claims Sri Lanka's tour next year will certainly go ahead as the island nation's sports minister has assured him of the series getting the requisite government clearance.cricket Updated: Dec 26, 2008 17:51 IST
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ejaz Butt claims Sri Lanka's tour here next year will certainly go ahead as the island nation's sports minister Gamini Lokuge has assured him of the series getting the requisite government clearance.
"Our High Commissioner has spoken to the sports minister who has assured him the tour is on but as per government policies, it has to be cleared by the Sri Lankan foreign ministry," Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ejaz Butt told PTI.
He said Lokuge was assured that the tour, starting January 20, was definitely on and only the formalities needed to be completed.
"As is the usual practice the Sri Lankan cricket authorities have to get security clearance from their foreign office. The foreign office will in turn will seek assurances from our government for proper security arrangements to be made for the series," he said.
Pakistan invited Sri Lanka to play three Tests and five one-day internationals after India cancelled its confirmed tour to Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks, which has put a big strain on relations between the two countries.
The former President of the Sri Lanka Cricket's interim committee Arjuna Ranatunga had agreed to replace India but after he and his committee were sacked last week by the sports minister, the tour was under a shadow of doubt.
But Butt said Lokuge had assured the Pakistan high commissioner the tour would not be affected by the change in the interim committee. "As far as the security arrangements are concerned we will be meeting with Sri Lankan officials perhaps even the sports minister during the ACC meeting in Kuala Lumpur and we will assure them state level security plans and arrangements for the tour," Butt said.
He also insisted that India had not called off its tour to Pakistan because of security concerns.
"It was a political decision and we can't do anything about it. But the fact is that India and Sri Lanka were both in Karachi for the Asia Cup earlier this year and they were satisfied with the arrangements we made for them," he stated.
"All our provincial governments are coordinating with the board and the centre to assure top class security arrangements for the tour," he said.
Butt did not agree with media reports that the Sri Lankans might call off their tour to Pakistan as they didn't want to upset the Indian government.
"I don't know from where all this is coming from. But our relations with the Indian board remain good. Our government to government relations with Sri Lankan are excellent as well. Unfortunately sections of the Indian media have come up with stories apparently aimed at portraying a picture that isolates Pakistan cricket from all other countries."