Is Pakistan ready to host again?
In 2009 when the Sri Lankan team arrived in Lahore, much was said about their security, or the lack of it, after armed men were able to ambush their vehicle with ease. At the time of their arrival at the airport, the security protocol suggested that improvement was needed. But at that point the most worrying aspect was being hoarded by fans’ excitement or the media.
Few thought a gun attack was in the making that would cause casualties and injuries.
But it happened and, despite ‘intelligent’ reports, a targeted and planned attack was to take away international cricket and the hosting rights of the World Cup. Since then, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has fought and begged to bring back Test-playing nations to the country.
Failing to do so, since the government never seems to manage a grip on the security situation given that it’s not on its priority list – they have enough personal issues of their own – desperate times called for pretty desperate measures.
The newly-appointed PCB struck a deal with Bangladesh – and given our big hearts and a historic tendency to strike deals at every meeting – to back their nomination as president of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and in return, arrange a cricket tour of Pakistan. As hopes revived for the return of international cricket, minor details are still being ignored.
The ministry has assured ‘fool-proof’ security, provided a visit by a Bangladesh security team – which is yet to be finalised – approves of the situation. The return of international cricket can still not be assured since teams like Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka – if they overcome their 2009 trauma – would still be hesitant.
We’ve already seen the dedication of extremist groups and slackness of our security agencies. A promise, that too from our government already facing uncertainty over its own future, is hardly trustworthy especially since by the time a tour is arranged, changes at the helm could have taken place.
While I hope a miracle can persuade the return of top-flight international cricket to Pakistan – the public and venues badly need it – a lot of dedication by a lot of individuals would be required.
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