Wasim Khan, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief executive, has pointed at “inequality” in terms of treatment towards Pakistan, in the backdrop of the New Zealand team pulling out of the tour due to security reasons.
Khan, who insisted that the security protocols that were in place for the New Zealand team were similar to the presidential security when the Royal Couple visited Pakistan in 2019, said the PCB will take the matter up with the ICC and New Zealand Cricket in order to prevent countries from taking unilateral decisions regarding pull-outs which will have an adverse impact on the host country.
“Ramiz Raja, the chairman, and myself will be taking this up at the ICC level but also with New Zealand. It is something that we'll be pushing to have a discussion more broadly over this topic, when we sit at the ICC table,” Khan said at an online press conference on Sunday (September 19). “Because as I said, the issue we have at the moment is that people can unilaterally make that decision without any consequences for themselves. There's consequences for the others who are the recipients, in this case it was us. Is it fair that that can happen?
“Yes we understand that there was guidance provided by the New Zealand government. But were we not owed the respect to at least to have some dialogue to share the information, security to security, to see if we can mitigate the potential threat. We at the PCB didn't need to know about the security threat, that could have been done at security-security level, and collaborations could happen at international level. We all want to see a peaceful, harmonious world. If at that level, we cannot share information outside a circle, then it's going to be very hard for countries to be able to deal with and mitigate any potential threats that might be.
“There is inequality. I don't care what people say and I've been around cricket for a very very long time. We went to New Zealand, Bangladesh. We've done everything that's been asked of us. We've shown solidarity in cricket. Our players have gone through hardships in 14 days quarantine in New Zealand. We went after the Bangladesh team got attacked in a Masjid. We've done everything we possibly could do. What we have to look at now is that we expect fair treatment the other way as well. It's easy to walk out of countries like Pakistan without any reason, any dialogue or discussion. That has to stop. Because the inequality has to stop in world cricket, unless we do that we're not going to have an even playing field, both in treatment and in finances.”
The PCB chief executive, who spoke about the security inputs that emanated from Five Eyes – the joint intelligence wing of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK and the US – said there was no change in the travel advisory despite the report that prompted New Zealand to pull out of the Pakistan tour. Khan was also hopeful of the England tour going ahead as per schedule, stressing on ESI head of security Reg Dickanson's assessment which gave ‘a clean bill of health'.
“Our understanding is that from a security perspective, as I mentioned, the travel advisory is an indicator of threat levels. Most of the western embassies and high commissions across the world use the travel advisories as an indicator of where the threat levels are. As it stands at the moment, the travel advisory has not changed from the British High Commission. Nor has it changed for the US, Australia and Canada who are also part of that five-eyes alliance.
“England are meeting today to make a decision on whether they will tour Pakistan or not. We know what the guidance is, we know from a security perspective there's a clean bill of health. We certainly hope England will tour. We certainly believe they should be coming and hope they will be coming, based on what the competent authority in Islamabad and the security expert is saying.
“The same security expert who provided the guidance for the ECB to go to Bangladesh, six weeks after the bomb blast that killed 12 people [in 2016] – so there's a lot of trust put into this security expert who is understood and respected around the world. We certainly hope when the board meets, the ECB will decide to send their team to Pakistan for this short tour.”
Khan, meanwhile, ruled out any possibility of Pakistan not playing their match against New Zealand in the T20 WC as a mark of protest.
“I don't think the answer to that is not taking part or playing against New Zealand in the World Cup. We have a duty to the fans, we have a duty still to get out there and play. Our duty is to go out and win that match. This is an ICC World Cup and our job is to go out and do that and we'll continue to have dialogue and discussion offline, myself and the chairman will do that with the competent authorities.”