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Pakistan Deaths
Pakistan Cases

ISLAMABAD: The New Zealand cricket team, on Friday, pulled out of Pakistan's tour over a "security alert" minutes before the two cricket teams were about to play their first match of the three ODIs [one-day international] series at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.

In a statement, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced that "Earlier today, the New Zealand cricket board informed us that they had been alerted to some security alert and have unilaterally decided to postpone the series."

It stated that the PCB and the government of Pakistan made foolproof security arrangements for all visiting teams.

"We have assured the New Zealand cricket board of the same. The prime minister spoke personally to the prime minister of New Zealand and informed her that we have one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team," the statement reads.

Pakistan-New Zealand series abandoned due to 'security alert'

It stated that the security officials with the New Zealand team have been satisfied with the security arrangements made by the government of Pakistan throughout their stay in Pakistan.

"PCB is willing to continue the scheduled matches. However, cricket lovers in Pakistan and around the world will be disappointed by this last minute withdrawal," the statement added.

PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja, while reacting to the New Zealand's decision, described it as "very frustrating".

"Crazy day it has been! Feel so sorry for the fans and our players. Walking out of the tour by taking a unilateral approach on a security threat is very frustrating. Especially when it's not shared!! Which world is NZ living in NZ will hear us at ICC [International Cricket Council]," the newly appointed PCB chairman stated in a tweet.

The Kiwis tour of Pakistan was taking place after a gap of 18 years following a gradual improvement in the security situation in the country over the course of last few years.

In a statement, the New Zealand cricket board stated that its team are abandoning their tour of Pakistan following a New Zealand government "security alert".

New Zealand cricket team arrives after 18 years

"The side was to play Pakistan this evening in the first of three ODIs in Rawalpindi, before moving to Lahore for a five match T20 series. However, following an escalation in the New Zealand Government threat levels for Pakistan, and advice from NZC security advisors on the ground, it has been decided the BLACKCAPS will not continue with the tour," it stated, adding that arrangements are now being made for the team's departure.

NZC chief executive David White said it was simply not possible to continue with the tour given the advice he was receiving.

About the departure of the New Zealand's cricket team, chief executive PCB Wasim Khan told reporters that the guest team will leave for their country today (Saturday) by a special chartered flight.

Speaking at a news conference soon after the New Zealand's pulling out of the tour, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid maintained that the cancellation of the series was a "conspiracy" against Pakistan.

"No security agency of Pakistan has received any threat to the New Zealand cricket team," the minister said, adding that neither any threat was received nor was there any security issue in Pakistan for cricket.

"New Zealand took a unilateral decision to cancel the Pakistan's tour despite the tight security arrangements made for the team," he said, adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan has personally talked to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden and assured her that there was no security threat.

The minister said that Prime Minister Arden has told Prime Minister Khan that "there is no issue of any threat but we have information that our team might be attacked if they go out of the hotel."

Cricket New Zealand approves team's tour to Pakistan after security check

When asked as to who has hatched conspiracy against Pakistan, he said that it is inappropriate to name the conspirator.

"The same force who wanted to hurt Pakistan's efforts for peace in the region are behind the cancellation of the tour. This is an effort to tarnish Pakistan's image," he maintained.

He also stated that Indian media was continuously trying to defame Pakistan, "but their designs would be foiled."

The minister further stated that New Zealand has the right to make whatsoever decision, adding that the government of Pakistan had made "extraordinary" security arrangements for the tour by deploying commandos from Pakistan Army's Special Services Group (SSG), soldiers, and 4,000 policemen for the matches.

"The National Crises Management Cell and other institutions had tried to convince them to play the match without spectators, but they did not agree and has taken a unilateral decision," the interior minister further stated.

He said that the unilateral decision comes at a time when Pakistan is playing a crucial role for peace and stability in the region and beyond.

"Pakistan has strong institutions which have fought terrorism very effectively," he said, adding that the security team of New Zealand have arrived four months ago before the August 31 deadline for withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan and they have termed the security arrangement "satisfactory".

To another query, he said that it has also been learnt that the England cricket team is also thinking on the same line over cancelling the Pakistan's tour and the next 48 hours are important in this regard.

"On our part, we have made all strict security arrangements for the tours of the New Zealand as well as England cricket teams," he said.

Responding to another query, he said that Pakistan wants peace in Afghanistan and situation is normal at all borders with Afghanistan.

"Pakistan facilitated evacuation of hundreds of foreigners from Afghanistan," he said.

About speculation of British High Commission's involvement in cancelling the Kiwis tour to Pakistan, the British High Commissioner to Pakistan Christian Turner, said:

"Speculations that the British High Commission was involved PA vs NZ being called off are untrue; this was a decision for new Zealand authorities and taken independently. I recognize that this is sad day for cricket fans in Pakistan and around the world who are looking forward to the series".

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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