- The Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chief Executive Wasim Khan said the New Zealand government received a security alert from the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence group over a "direct and imminent" threat to its cricket team, following which the series was called off, a decision Pakistan says was taken unilaterally.
In a virtual press conference on Sunday, Khan added New Zealand set a "very wrong example" by unilaterally ending the tour.
"The last 48 hours have been very difficult for Pakistan cricket," said Khan.
The New Zealand side abandoned its tour of Pakistan on the day of the first One-Day International, supposed to be held on Friday, leaving Pakistan and the PCB in a position where they were left ruing both financial and reputation losses. While New Zealand cited a "security alert" as the reason, there were few details revealed at the time.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday that she totally supported New Zealand Cricket's decision to pull out of its Pakistan tour as the safety of the players was paramount.
"I know how disappointing it will be for everyone that the game hasn't gone ahead, but we totally support the decision that's been made. Player safety has to be paramount," she had said.
However, Khan said he received a call on Friday from Reg Dickason, the security consultant for New Zealand who had paid a visit to Pakistan prior to the series, who said that "a report had landed on the New Zealand government's desk through their security agencies stating that there was a threat on the New Zealand team, and that threat was direct and imminent on that particular day".
"He (Dickason) stated that information had emanated from that circle (Five Eyes) and reached the deputy prime minister's office of New Zealand, and that it was serious and it was something that we needed to try and address immediately," the PCB chief executive added.
The Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Khan said New Zealand refused to provide any details or inform the Pakistani security agencies about the threat.
"When we contacted our security agencies, they clarified that there was no security threat to the visiting team," he added.
Regretting the Kiwis' decision, the PCB CEO said "you have to trust the security agencies of the country that you are touring."
"While harming the relations between the two boards, the decision will have far-reaching consequences," he said, noting that New Zealand's players and security officials had expressed confidence over Pakistan's security arrangements.
Khan also categorically said that the national cricket team will look to play all its home series in the country, a statement that comes as speculation rose that New Zealand's decision would affect upcoming plans.
Khan said the PCB has a clear vision for now that Pakistan will play its home series in the country, and no where else, for which "we are engaged in talks with different boards".
"The PCB contacted Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to tour Pakistan and both boards accepted the offer. Unfortunately, there's very short notice, and the Bangladesh players are all over the country. The Sri Lanka squad are going to Oman fairly soon. So it's not possible in this timeframe to put anything in place."
He said board officials have worked hard in the recent past to resume international cricket in Pakistan.
"New Zealand has damaged our reputation and hard work. Financial damage is there but the credibility of Pakistan cricket has been damaged heavily."
Khan hoped England will visit Pakistan as there is a "clean bill of health from a security perspective".
“England are meeting today to make a decision on whether they will tour Pakistan or not. We know what the guidance is, we know from a security perspective there's a clean bill of health. We certainly believe they should be coming and hope they will be coming, based on what the competent authority in Islamabad and the security expert (ESI Security) is saying.”
The CEO said that the same security expert approved the England cricket team's visit to Bangladesh, six weeks after the bomb blast that killed 12 people in 2016.
"So, we certainly hope when the board meets, the ECB will decide to send their team to Pakistan for this short tour."