Pakistan to participate in World Cup in India

ISLAMABAD:

Pakistan cricket team will participate in the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup in India, the Foreign Office (FO) announced on Sunday, ending uncertainty over the team’s participation because of the current state of ties between the two neighbours.

“Pakistan has consistently maintained that sports should not be mixed with politics. It has, therefore, decided to send its Cricket Team to India to participate in the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2023,” FO said in a statement.

The decision was taken by the government on the recommendation of high-powered committee headed by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.

The committee met on Thursday at the foreign office and linked Pakistan’s participation with ICC providing foolproof security to its team.

Read more: Pakistan’s World Cup participation in India all but certain

The Express Tribune first broke the story that the majority of the committee members were in favour of dispatching the team to India. Some members of the committee pushed for a hybrid model envisaging Pakistan to play its matches at a neutral venue.

The proposal didn’t get much traction as most members of the committee were of the view that ICC would never accept such a suggestion.

Hence, the committee decided with consensus that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) would write a letter to the ICC seeking firm guarantees of the team’s security.

The proposal was discussed with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who formally approved Pakistan’s participation. Official sources said all stakeholders including the security establishment were on board and the decision to send team to India was unanimous.

Read more: Pakistan, India likely to clash on 2nd and 10th September in Asia Cup

Meanwhile, the official readout explained the rationale behind Pakistan’s decision.

“Pakistan believes that the state of bilateral relations with India should not stand in the way of fulfilling its international sports-related obligations,” the FO said.

“Pakistan’s decision shows its constructive and responsible approach vis-à-vis India’s intransigent attitude, as the latter had refused to send its Cricket Team to Pakistan for the Asia Cup,” it added.

The statement, however, expressed deep concerns about the security of its cricket team.

“We are conveying these concerns to the International Cricket Council and the Indian authorities. We expect that full safety and security of the Pakistan Cricket Team will be ensured during its visit to India.”

The Cricket World Cup is scheduled to be played in India in October and November. The high-voltage cricket match between Pakistan and India will be played on October 14 at the world’s biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

Gujarat is the home state of current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


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