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Mafia back in action in Pakistan

Speculation is rife in Pakistan whether last week's bomb blast was a ploy by the betting racket to scare away the South Africans.

india Updated: Sep 27, 2003 12:40 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

As the South African cricket team is poised to arrive in Pakistan on Tuesday to play in the revived tour, speculation is rife in the country whether last week's bomb blast in Karachi was a ploy by the betting racket to scare away the tourists as the odds did not favour them.

Speculation is rife in Pakistan whether or not the notorious cricket mafia was indirectly responsible for the blast at the Kawish Plaza, allegedly owned by Mumbai don Dawood Ibrahim, on Sept 19 which led to the United Cricket Board of South Africa announcing its cancellation of the tour, Pakistan weekly 'Friday Times' reported.

There was huge betting in Pakistan on whether South Africa would tour Pakistan or not. Bets were also placed on whether any match would be played in Karachi and Peshawar at all, the weekly quoted a source of the Karachi Stock Exchange as saying.

The Pakistan Cricket Board claimed to have lost millions of dollars of anticipated revenues due to cancellation of the South African tour, but some people have earned millions not only here but possibly in South Africa too, the report said.

Pakistani intelligence agencies are currently investigating the possibility of the involvement of the underworld in the bomb explosion at the Plaza, which was the centre of similar explosions earlier, the weekly said.

Media reports in the past said the building was owned by Dawood, but Pakistan consistently denied his presence. The blast has not caused any injuries but caused a major scare for PCB as the South Africans cancelled the tour in the last minute citing security problems.

The cancellation followed after UCB earlier expressed its reservations to play in Karachi and Peshawar, but later agreed after its security experts cleared both the places.

The mafia smelt a whiff of millions, without taking into consideration the damage caused to Pakistan cricket, as it went about conducting a massive betting whether South Africans would play in Karachi and Peshawar. As the odds favoured yes, the blast followed, the report said.

The betting went up as the United Cricket Board initially agreed to come but came down after the blast and UCB's subsequent decision not to send the team.

The UCB again reversed its decision to cancel the tour and agreed for a revised schedule after PCB agreed to drop matches at Karachi and Peshawar.

South Africa would now play two Tests instead of three as originally planned and five one day internationals, all in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Faisalabad.

Previously betting was on cricket matches but now it has turned to whether a particular tour would be held at all, the weekly said.

First Published: Sep 27, 2003 01:36 IST