Islamabad: The Pakistan government has formed a three-member team to assess the security arrangements for the national cricket team during the upcoming World Twenty20 in India.
The delegation, which will be headed by Usman Anwar, a senior director of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), also includes a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official and an official from the Pakistan High Commission in India.
The security team will leave for India on Monday and will file their report on the security arrangements in India by Wednesday.
“I have asked the PCB chairman to wait, and the team can wait until the security clearance is assured. We can delay our team’s departure till we are sure that they will be safe in India. If the security team’s initial report is positive, our cricket team will leave for India as per schedule on Wednesday otherwise we may delay the team’s departure,” Interior Minister Nisar Khan told reporters here.
“We not only want our team’s security in hotels and on routes, but want our players to play cricket without any worries in grounds where thousands of people will accumulate for the match. We will only give a green signal for the team to go to India once we get security clearance,” he added.
The government has granted permission to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to send the national team to India for the World T20. But PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan has decided not to send the team until foolproof security is assured.
The government’s decision to send a delegation to assess the security arrangements in India came after political leaders in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh cutting across party lines expressed reservations about hosting the India-Pakistan tie in Dharamsala on March 19.
Serving and retired Indian Army personnel have also voiced their opposition to the highly anticipated Super 10 Group 2 clash as Kangra district — where Dharamsala is located — is home to a large number of martyred soldiers’ families.
The issue had sparked a war of words between Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Anurag Thakur. They later held a meeting to sort out the issue.
While Virbhadra Singh had sent a letter to union Home Minister Rajnath Singh asserting that the state government will not be able to provide security during the game, former chief minister Shanta Kumar in his letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that the match should not be allowed at Dharamsala as Kangra district is home to hundreds of valiant jawans, martyrs’ families and ex-servicemen.
State Transport Minister G.S. Bali had also issued an ultimatum to the BCCI, asserting that if the match is not cancelled, it will lead to a massive agitation.
But the BCCI and the Indian government have sought to ease concerns over security, with Rajnath Singh stating that central para-military forces will be deputed to provide security during the match if the state administration is unable to do so.