Karachi: Feb 1, 2013
All-rounder Shahid Afridi has made an emotional appeal to the cricketing world to end Pakistan’s four-year isolation over terror attacks.
No international cricket has been played in Pakistan, which suffers near daily Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked violence, since gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in March 2009, killing eight Pakistanis and wounding seven visiting players.
Minnows Bangladesh twice called off tours last year over security fears and the head of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) has warned players not to take part in an inaugural Twenty20 tournament in March.
Former captain Afridi said Pakistan has been sidelined and had “suffered because of being the frontline state in the war” against Islamist militants.
“We are desperately trying to revive international cricket in our country and need co-operation but it’s not coming,” he told AFP on Thursday.
For four years, Pakistan has been forced to play its home series at neutral venues in England and the United Arab Emirates, denying millions of local fans the chance of watching live international cricket.
“Pakistan cricket is suffering because of non-cooperation and it is high time that other nations contribute to our efforts. Don’t leave us alone,” said Afridi, known for his hard-hitting and wily leg-spin in limited overs cricket.
“If two players from each country come we can stage a good league and I request Cricket Australia to send their players,” said Afridi.
“FICA must also co-operate. Pakistan needs support and if a player is willing to come and we are assuring him security, then they must not stop him. This is the time that world cricket must support us.”
Afridi said Pakistan wants a special bond with Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka.
“Pakistan has helped Bangladesh, they shouldn’t forget that,” said Afridi, referring to getting Bangladesh Test status in 2000. The country won independence in a bitter war with Pakistan in 1971.
“We toured India for a limited over series in December-January which helped them earn a huge amount and now it’s India‘s time to help us — all the more so because cricket has been the biggest tool in bringing both nations closer,” said Afridi.