Bangladesh set to assess cricket tour security in Pakistan

PCB has invited Bangladesh to tour in April for three one-day internationals AFP

By Khurram Shahzad

Islamabad: Mar 3, 2012

Bangladesh promised Saturday to work towards bringing international cricket back to Pakistan after a three-year hiatus, kicking off a visit to assess security for a proposed series in April.

“We will work hand in hand to convince our other colleagues there in the ICC (International Cricket Council) to bring back cricket to Pakistan at the earliest,” said Mustafa Kamal, chairman of the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB).

He spoke to reporters in Islamabad, beginning a visit to assess security for Bangladesh’s proposed tour to Pakistan three years to the day after attacks on Sri Lankan players saw international cricket suspended in the troubled country.

The nine-member Bangladesh delegation held talks with Interior Minister Rehman Malik and is to tour facilities in Lahore and Karachi, before returning home on March 5 to submit a report for approval to the government in Dhaka.

“I am here with the positive mood of mind,” Kamal told a joint news conference with Malik and Pakistan Cricket Boad (PCB) chairman Zaka Ashraf, one day after violence in Pakistan’s northwest killed at least 55 people.

On March 3, 2009 gunmen ambushed the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore, killing eight Pakistanis and wounding seven visiting players and their assistant coach.

The attack suspended international cricket in the country, stripped Pakistan of its 2011 World Cup hosting rights and forced it to play home series at neutral venues in England, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates.

The PCB, determined to revive international cricket, has invited Bangladesh to tour in April for three one-day internationals.

Pakistan’s interior minister promised to guarantee security and cooperate fully with Bangladesh’s requirements.

“From landing to departure and while staying in a hotel, or any movement within the country and of course the stadiums, they will all stand fully protected,” Malik told the news conference.

The PCB chairman hailed the visit as a “great moment for the Pakistan Cricket Board and Pakistan cricket lovers”.

“I am sure that they will be fully satisfied with the security plan being given by the ministry, by the provinces of Sindh and Punjab,” he added.

Bangladesh last toured Pakistan in 2008 to play five one-day games, a series which they lost 5-0.

Even before the March 2009 attacks, many foreign teams steered clear of Pakistan over security fears accompanying a wave of Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked attacks that escalated significantly in 2007.

Other sports such as field hockey, tennis and squash have also suffered as Pakistan continues to be a “no go” area for international sportsmen. (AFP)