Cricket fans in Pakistan find themselves in a state of frustration and despair as they remain unable to travel to India for the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup due to a lack of clarity on acquiring Indian visas. Several ticket holders for the tournament have expressed their disappointment, as they fear that their investment in match tickets may go to waste, with the Indian High Commission in Pakistan yet to announce a visa policy for Pakistani fans.
The tournament kicked off on October 5, and the highly anticipated clash between India and Pakistan is set to take place this Saturday, making this issue even more pressing for cricket enthusiasts. Umer Faizan, a cricket fan from Islamabad who had tickets to Pakistan’s first two matches, explained, “We are not eligible for a refund as we fall under the ‘no-show’ category. The tournament has been underway for nearly a week, but there is still no visa policy for Pakistani fans.”
The visa-seeking process between the two nations, with a history of tense diplomatic relations, is arduous and time-consuming. It typically involves extensive background security checks conducted by government security agencies on both sides, leading to significant delays. Special visa policies are usually created to accommodate match ticket holders and journalists covering such events, but the lack of information has left many in a state of limbo.
Faizan, who purchased tickets in a pre-sale offer two months before the tournament began, expressed his disappointment, saying, “I bought the tickets with three other friends, and it was going to be a trip of a lifetime for us to watch our team in India, but we have no information on how to get an Indian visa.”
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has raised concerns about the predicament faced by fans and journalists and conveyed their message to the Indian government through diplomatic channels. The PCB Chairman, Zaka Ashraf, has urged Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary to take up the issue with India’s Home Ministry via the Pakistan High Commission Office in New Delhi.
Diplomatic relations between Pakistan and India have been downgraded since the 2019 tensions stemming from attacks in Indian-administered Kashmir and India’s subsequent cross-border air attacks on what it labeled as “terrorist training camps.”
In a recent development, Pakistani journalists have been asked to submit their passports to obtain visas, following Ashraf’s conversation with the foreign office, which helped achieve this positive development. Previously, the ICC had asked Pakistani journalists to submit their questions for Pakistan’s post-match press conferences via WhatsApp messages to the PCB’s media team, who would read them out to the cricket team’s representatives.
In 2011, India co-hosted the tournament with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and several Pakistani fans and journalists were able to travel across the border for their team’s semifinal against their neighboring country. However, this time, many are facing unprecedented challenges.
Sana Kazmi, a dedicated Pakistani fan, watched the semifinal in Mohali in 2011 but has canceled her plans to cross the border this time, noting the difficulties in accessing the Indian visa website. She also pointed out that Pakistani fans and journalists encountering these issues receive crude and insulting responses on social media when they seek help from Indians.
A Pakistani fan who holds tickets for the marquee clash at Ahmedabad on Saturday has nearly given up on the hope of witnessing the action at the world’s largest cricket stadium. He shared his frustration, saying, “I spent thousands of Pakistani rupees to get my hands on a ticket, but it will all go to waste as I have no hopes of getting a visa in time.” Despite his efforts to reach out to government officials in Islamabad, he remains as clueless about the visa process as many others in his situation.
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