Protesters demand SA to play in Karachi
Scores of cricket fans staged a demonstration in protest against the exclusion of this southern port city from the itinerary for South Africa's tour of Pakistan next week, witnesses said.india Updated: Sep 27, 2003 20:52 IST
Scores of cricket fans staged a demonstration here Saturday in protest against the exclusion of this southern port city from the itinerary for South Africa's tour of Pakistan next week, witnesses said.
About 150 people held placards which read: "Karachiites are cricket crazy, not terrorists", "We want Pakistan-South Africa match in Karachi" and "Don't take away Karachi as international venue."
"People in Karachi are passionate about the game of cricket and they feel hugely deprived not to see South Africa play here," national parliament member Nawab Mirza said.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) was forced to remove the city of 14 million from the itinerary after South Africa last week cancelled the tour.
After intense negotiations with the PCB the South African government agreed to a shortened tour minus matches in Karachi and the northwestern Peshawar city near the Afghanistan border.
Violence-prone Karachi held its first one-day international for 16 months when Pakistan played Bangladesh last week.
The last team to visit was New Zealand who had to pack their bags after a suicide bomb blast outside their hotel killed 15 people including 11 French naval staff in May last year.
The West Indies and Australia also refused to tour Pakistan for security reasons, forcing Pakistan to play at neutral venues last year.
The PCB last week said they would fight to secure Karachi's place as a cricket venue in an International Cricket Council meeting in the West Indies next month.
"This is injustice to the people of Karachi and we demand South African captain Greame Smith bring his team to the city," said Karachi City Cricket Association president Muneer Hussain. "We would make sure they play here without any trouble."
Smith Friday said South Africa's initial refusal to tour the country was based on security concerns and was never an issue about Pakistan.
"Excuse me for being blunt, but I can't help thinking that a bomb intended for someone else will hurt just as much as one intended for you," Smith wrote in his column for Cape Times newspaper.
"To say the bomb in Karachi wasn't serious because it was a business conflict misses the point completely. The question should be about the general stability of a region," he wrote.
The South Africans are due in the eastern border city of Lahore Tuesday and open their tour there with a warm-up, one-day game against City Nazim XI on October 1.
They play the first of five one-day internationals in Lahore two days later before playing Tests in Lahore and Faisalabad.