Shaharyar says political tension a threat to Pakistan-India series (Daily Times (Pakistan))

Amid speculation over the resumption of Pakistan-India cricketing ties, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan on Monday admitted that the planned series between the two nations in United Arab Emirates (UAE) in December was in ‘danger’ and added that he would travel to India next month to discuss the issue. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is awaiting the permission of its government for the revival of cricket series between the two countries. There is no problem from our end but it is the Indian board which is awaiting permission. So far their government has not granted permission to the BCCI for holding of Pakistan-India cricket series, he told reporters at Gadaffi Stadium here.

The former diplomat said he had a plan to meet with the BCCI hierarchy and other government officials to discuss the scheduled series. There is a real danger at this time to the series. But I plan to go to India to get a clear answer on the prospects of the matches being held in December, he said. He pointed out that the PCB was very keen to follow the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two boards to play six bilateral series between 2015 and 2022 after the new governance system took place in the International Cricket Council (ICC).

BCCI is standing firm that they will respect the MoU signed with Pakistan, but they need permission from the recently elected government, said Shaharyar. Another issue is the dispute between Ten Sports and BCCI. The Indian board is reluctant to visit if Ten Sports is given broadcasting rights. We can’t do anything about this issue because we placed an open tender and Ten Sports won the broadcasting rights. If this is solved then the only remaining problem will be the political environment between the countries. We are still maintaining our stance that sports and politics should be kept apart. We hope India honours the agreement. If they don’t, it would not be good. Moreover, we can’t interfere in government affairs but we want to see a green light from the Indian government soon.

Shaharyar, who remained a high commissioner in New Delhi and also foreign secretary, also admitted that the present political relations between the two countries could have a bearing on the series. I am doing everything to convince the governments to allow this series but the present political relations will have an influence and we don’t know what the situation will be in the next six months. He pointed out that many former greats, the PCB and even the international cricket community were off the opinion that Pakistan and India should play regular bilateral cricket.

Associates teams ready to tour Pakistan: Shaharyar also talked about how some associate teams were ready to visit Pakistan and the reluctance of the PCB to not pressurise full-member nations to come to the country to play a series. Hong Kong and Oman are ready to visit Karachi. In the next few weeks, we will finalise the plan of all the countries who will tour Pakistan. They will play three to four matches on their way to Mumbai for the World Twenty20. We have the same conditions as India, so it will help them practice for the tournament. We won’t pressure full-member teams to visit Pakistan after a successful Zimbabwe tour. There are indications that Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are considering a visit to Pakistan. Our security conditions are better now. We hosted Kenya, Afghanistan and the Australian Army team so now the decision rests in the teams’ hand. Ireland and Scotland, meanwhile, are ready to come to Pakistan.

To a question, he said he was initially surprised with the exclusion of Sarfraz Ahmad from the Twenty20 team against Sri Lanka but later discovered that the wicketkeeper batsman was dropped not based on any politics as the team management was trying a new combination for the build up of the team. Answering another question, he rated Younus Khan a great cricketer who has still a lot of cricket left in him as he is fit enough compared to a number of young players. Shaharyar said the PCB was in touch with the ICC as far as resumption of international cricket is concerned in Pakistan. The ICC Task Force on revival of international cricket in Pakistan is seriously working on it and it has assured that Pakistan will be having international ties in its own backyard in due course of time.

While replying to a question about the organisation of Pakistan Super League in Qatar rather than Pakistan, Shaharyar said: Playing PSL in Pakistan in the first season will neither be good for our cricketer nor lucrative because no big names would like to come here at the moment. Launching it in the UAE and as a second option in Qatar is good for our cricket as well as to generate good money.