LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Tuesday slammed Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) over their ‘careless’ approach in handling the matter of international teams visiting Pakistan. FICA earlier on Tuesday had issued a report which strongly suggested that overseas players decline to participate in the 2017 Pakistan Super League (PSL) final due to concerns over player safety. In the report, FICA has warned that the risk level in Pakistan remains “at an extremely elevated state” and that “an acceptable level of participant security and safety cannot be expected or guaranteed”. The PCB, in a press release, slammed FICA for their baseless allegations. “FICA has done great disservice to the cause of cricket in general and Pakistan cricket in particular by advising players not to play in the PSL final in Lahore next March because of “security reasons”. FICA has cited unnamed “expert security consultants” for “updated security advice” that claims Pakistan is “at an extremely elevated state of insecurity”.
“This is a careless and cavalier approach to an issue of great importance. FICA sits thousands of miles away from Pakistan and cannot name even one credible security expert, yet makes a sweeping negative statement about the security situation in Lahore. FICA’s claim that ‘westerners and luxury hotels have been attacked’ is contrary to facts on the ground that prove that not a single foreigner or hotel has been attacked in Lahore in the last five years,” said the statement. “FICA’s claim that ‘targeted attacks’ are predicted to continue is belied by the fact that Lahore is the show piece of the government that has secured the services of UK based “safe city” security project.” The PCB then highlighted the successful tours the board has undertaken in the past, with the Zimbabwe national cricket team serving as the prime example. “PCB has recently hosted Kenya, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh (women), Afghanistan and Malaysian national cricket teams in Lahore and Karachi without any problem,” added the release. “In the case of the PSL final in Lahore for one day, the government has guaranteed protection by over 3,000 army and police personnel in Lahore. The PCB will provide armoured buses for travel along with VVIP security protocols.”
The statement also emphasised the fact that many foreign players consistently travel to Pakistan on various cricketing assignments and are available to vouch for the country if the need arises. “It may also be noted that a group of foreign players including Jonty Rhodes, Brain Lara, Curtly Ambrose, Glenn McGrath, Dean Jones, Mark Butcher, Marvin Atapattu, Herschelle Gibbs, Damien Martyn, Andy Roberts, Danny Morrison, Sanath Jayasuriya, Andrew Symonds, Ajay Jadeja, Robin Smith, Cameron Delport etc are regular visitors to Pakistan on assignments with television channel PTV and are available to vouch for the country,” it read, before adding: “The PSL has already received confirmation from top international players to play in Lahore and PCB is determined to bring cricket home to Pakistan.”