Punjab government responsible for cancellation of Bangladesh tour, says Zaka Ashraf

Bangladesh called off the short tour to Pakistan, which would have been the first by any Test-playing nation since 2009 AFP

Karachi: Jun 12, 2012

Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Zaka Ashraf has blamed the Punjab province government for the cancellation of the Bangladesh team’s tour to Pakistan in April.

Speaking to a TV channel, Ashraf said one statement from the Punjab government had ruined the chances of Bangladesh playing in Pakistan.

“The statement made by the Punjab government was that it was not aware of the Bangladesh team’s tour to Lahore and so how could it provide security damaged the tour,” Ashraf said.

“The statement sent out a wrong message to the outside world and to the Bangladesh Cricket Board. Believe me everything was in place for the series to take place and we had even started printing of tickets for the two matches and other arrangements were also being put into place,” he said.

Ashraf, who was nominated as Chairman of the board last October by President Asif Zardari, is also a member of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party executive council and a well known politician.

Analysts say his presence at the PCB led to the fallout between the Board and the Punjab government which is ruled by the opposition Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz group.

Bangladesh called off the short tour to Pakistan, which would have been the first by any Test-playing nation since 2009, after discrepancies crept into statements made by the central and Punjab government officials on security arrangements for the visiting team.

The Dhaka High Court issued an injunction against the Bangladesh board sending its players to Pakistan because of security concerns putting to rest any chances of international cricket resuming in Pakistan.

No Test-playing nation has sent its team to Pakistan ever since terrorists attacked on the Sri Lankan team in March 2009 in Lahore killing six Pakistani policemen and a van driver.

The standoff between the PCB and the Punjab government turned ugly last week when the Gulberg Town municipal corporation (the area where the PCB headquarters in Gaddafi stadium is located) demolished a security wall near the stadium’s front entrance.

Ashraf said he was thankful to former Pakistan captain, Imran Khan for supporting the PCB on the issue and said the Punjab authorities had acted hastily in demolishing the wall.

“The security wall was for the protection of the stadium and by demolishing it they achieved nothing but portray a poor image of Pakistan abroad,” he said. (PTI)