PM-formed committee to deliberate on Pakistan’s participation in World Cup in India: minister


ISLAMABAD, JUL 8: Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Ehsanur Rehman Mazari on Saturday confirmed that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had constituted a committee to deliberate on the Pakistan cricket team’s participation in the World Cup in India later this year.

“I received the letter about its formation last night,” he told over the phone, adding that Special Assistant to Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi had been appointed as the committee’s coordinator.

He further said that committee members would make recommendations regarding the Pakistan team’s visit to India for the World Cup, but the final decision on the matter “will be taken at the Prime Minister’s House”.

The development comes amid a lack of clarity on whether the Pakistan team would travel to India to participate in the tournament, scheduled to take place from October 5 to November 19.

Currently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, along with relevant departments of the government, is carrying out due diligence as part of a routine process before it gives the green light for team Pakistan to fly to India.

The situation means the players aren’t sure so far if they are going to play in the World Cup or not, also not having a clear idea of what venues they will play at even if they end up travelling to India.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) formally reached out to the government last week for it to provide the national team clearance to visit India for the upcoming International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup.

The PCB confirmed last Saturday that it had written to its patron-in-chief, PM Shehbaz Sharif, along with two relevant government departments after the ICC released the official schedule of the 50-over showpiece.

According to the schedule, Pakistan will play their World Cup matches at five venues: Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata. The PCB had sought the government’s advice regarding several aspects of playing at each of the said venues.

The Babar Azam-led unit, if it makes it to the semi-finals, will also not play in Mumbai, one of the venues for the last four fixtures. The team, instead, will play the match in Kolkata after the ICC accepted the PCB’s demand to avoid Mumbai as one of Pakistan’s destinations.

Asia Cup row
The announcement of the World Cup schedule followed a dispute over the hosting of the Asia Cup, of which Pakistan is the formal host.

India refused to travel to Pakistan for the Asia Cup, which is to be held in August and September, and Pakistan responded by threatening to boycott the World Cup if they were not allowed to stage at least some Asia Cup matches on home soil.

The stalemate was finally resolved last month when the Asian Cricket Council accepted Pakistan’s hybrid-model solution with matches split between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

India will now play their Asia Cup matches at neutral venues in Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, Zaka Ashraf — who recently replaced Najam Sethi as the interim chief of the PCB management committee and is also the prime minister’s nominee for the PCB chairman — has said he will respect the hybrid model agreed by his predecessor but at the same time hinted that the decision to send the team to the World Cup would be taken after appropriate consultations.

Previously, he also termed the hybrid model an “injustice” and said he will try to have it reviewed on becoming the PCB chief.

When asked for his views on the matter, Rehman said he was of the opinion that if the Indian team came to Pakistan to play the Asia Cup then the Greenshirts should visit India, but, if the neighbours opted for a neutral venue then Pakistan should do the same.