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Refusal was purely over security: Smith

South Africa's initial refusal to tour Pakistan was based only on security concerns, captain Graeme Smith said on Friday.

india Updated: Sep 26, 2003 14:41 IST
Reuters
Reuters
PTI

South Africa's initial refusal to tour Pakistan was based only on security concerns, captain Graeme Smith said on Friday.

"Let me clear one thing up straight away. This is not, and never has been, an issue about Pakistan," Smith wrote in his column for the Cape Times newspaper.

"It is an issue about security, it's as simple as that. I'm sure I don't need to remind Capetonians about the spate of bombings that so badly affected the city three or four years ago; I had friends who wouldn't go to the movies, literally."

The United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA) decided on Tuesday that the team would tour Pakistan on a revised itinerary after initially cancelling the six-week trip last Saturday following a bomb blast in Karachi.

REVISED ITINERARY

In the revised itinerary Karachi and the city of Peshawar, close to the border of Afghanistan, were removed from the schedule. South Africa will play two test matches instead of three and play five one-day internationals.

"In such circumstances I wouldn't blame any sports team if they wanted to know what the situation was and whether they would be safe or not," Smith said.

"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.

"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.

"All I ask is for people to remember we are just people, some with children, one with a pregnant wife and the rest hoping to start a family one day.

"We are very proud South Africans and we hope to fulfil a proud ambassadorial role in Pakistan as well as playing good cricket."

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have said that there will be top level security for the South African team and it is expected that they will be provided with security cover usually reserved for state visits.

"We know how much everyone is looking forward to the series and those responsible for the security have been advised to keep it strong but very discreet," PCB chief executive Rameez Raja told Reuters.

South Africa leave for Pakistan on Sunday.