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Shoaib Akhtar questions the security arrangements in Pakistan to host international matches

Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Akhtar during release of his autobiography "Shoaib Akhtar Controversially Yours" at a function in New Delhi on Friday. (Photo by Qamar Sibtain/India Today Group/Getty Images)
Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Akhtar. (Photo by Qamar Sibtain/India Today Group/Getty Images)

On one hand where the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is trying it’s best to lure big international stars to come and play cricket in Pakistan in their desperate attempt to bring international cricket back to their home turf, the former fast bowler and one of Pakistan’s most popular cricket stars, Shoaib Akhtar has claimed publicly that Pakistan is still not safe to host any big cricket matches in terms of security.

Pakistan lost the joint rights of hosting the World Cup 2011 in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the visiting Sri Lankan team in 2009 and since then PCB has tried everything to bring international teams back to Pakistan to play cricket. In their latest attempt, PCB announced that they will be hosting the final of the upcoming edition of PSL in Lahore which will include certain big names of the cricket world. But Shoaib Akhtar has not really backed this decision of PCB saying that unless the government can guarantee foolproof security to foreign cricketers, the PCB shouldn’t take the risk of planning to host any such matches in Pakistan.

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Akhtar’s comments came as the sensitive awakening of a most recent high-profile terrorist attack on the police training centre in Quetta which resulted in the death of 62 police cadets and two army men as well as injuring around 170. “Until there is a complete normalcy as far as the security situation is concerned we shouldn’t take the risk of inviting any foreign team to Pakistan,” he told Geo News channel.

He also said, “The security situation is such that we will have to be patient. I am sure international cricket will return to Pakistan but it will take some time.” Shoaib’s seemed justified with his words stating that PCB should not rush into hosting cricket matches of such significance in Pakistan. Any kind of mishappening will only hamper the arrival of international cricket to Pakistan and will further deteriorate the image of the country.

It should not be forgotten that Zimbabwe is the only country to tour Pakistan in last 7 years and even that short series was affected by security issues as a suicide attack merely 800 meters away from the Gaddafi Stadium was observed when the 2nd ODI was in progress. The explosions of the attack were loud enough to be heard by those in the stadium. The tour was under dark clouds but the Zimbabwean management decided to go ahead with the series as scheduled after a meeting with PCB and the security officials.

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Many international stars taking part in the second edition of PSL including Darren Sammy, Andre Russell and Shane Watson have remained suspicious about touring Pakistan. Andre Russell has even said that touring Pakistan is like going to Iraq.

UAE has embraced Pakistan cricket warmly providing them the similar conditions as in Pakistan and helping them grow their cricket in the time of adversity but home support is a void which can only be filled by taking cricket back to Pakistan. Unfortunately, the wait seems longer as their own cricketers are not satisfied with the security arrangements in the country.

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