The High Court of Bangladesh ordered that the nation’s cricket team postpone its planned tour of Pakistan for four weeks over security fears.
The Tigers were scheduled to play Pakistan’s team on April 29-30 under an arrangement reportedly engineered by the president of the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), Mustafa Kamal.
The court order came shortly after a joint petition filed by two people on Thursday morning, citing safety concerns if the Bangladesh team traveled to Pakistan.
Among other issues, the petitioned cited that the Pakistan Cricket Broad (PCB) has not provided any legitimate security plans to the International Cricket Council (ICC) for Bangladesh team’s tour.
Hassan Azim, lawyer for the two petitioners, told Agence France Presse (AFP): “Pakistan is not a safe place for an international sports event. No other international teams are travelling to Pakistan. Why should Bangladesh go? The decision was imposed on the cricketers.”
Stuart Law, Bangladesh’s coach, also expressed his fears.
“It’s got to be made sure by the two associating boards that everyone is 100 percent safe to go,” he said, according to AFP.
“I have spent time with the players and everyone is a bit concerned.”
The Federation of International Cricketers Association (FICA), which represents international cricketers, also criticized Kamal, calling the decision to tour Pakistan chaotic and contradictory.”
Tim May, FICA’s chief executive officer, said in a statement: This decision of whether Bangladesh should tour Pakistan needed to be a concise and transparent process. Unfortunately all we have witnessed is seemingly a complete lack of any process and a series of indecisive and contradictory comments, particularly coming from the [BCB] President Mustafa Kamal.
May added: “What’s required is not a stumbling, non-transparent and conflicted approach to this issue, but a proper, fully transparent, independent report on the safety of playing in the country. Only then will players feel comfortable contemplating whether it is time to play international cricket again in Pakistan.”
Some BCB directors even criticized Kamal’s plan to go to Pakistan.
Fears over the safety of cricketers playing in Pakistan are not unfounded – in 2009, the Sri Lankan cricket club was attacked by a rocket and bullets fired by militants while they travelled in a bus near the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, wounding seven of the players and a coach, while killing at least 7 other people.
Since then, Pakistan has become pariah in the cricketing world. No foreign team has played in the country in three years. Indeed, any match involving Pakistani teams have to be played in a neutral location, typically the United Arab Emirates.
The only entity that was seemingly happy with Kamal was the PCB, which lauded both him and the Bangladesh government. However, now the PCB is outraged over the postponement.
“It is astonishing to note that a matter lacking any legal issue has been dragged in the court by petitioners who appear to have vested interest and want to jeopardize Pakistan-Bangladesh cricketing relations,” the PCB said in a statement.
“It is extremely disturbing to note for the PCB and Pakistan cricket fans and world cricketing nations that such an adverse order has been passed to block a bilateral cricket series.”
Mohsin Khan, Pakistan’s former coach, also criticized the postponement.
“During this whole period I thought there was uncertainty but this postponement will definitely hurt Pakistan’s sincere efforts to revive cricket in Pakistan,” Khan told AFP.