The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) expressed deep disappointment on Monday regarding the ongoing visa delays faced by Pakistani fans and journalists planning to attend the World Cup tournament in India. The PCB called upon Islamabad to address this issue with the Indian government.
Last month, when Pakistan’s captain, Babar Azam, and his team arrived in Hyderabad, they were pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome they received at the airport. However, their joy was dampened by the absence of support from Pakistani fans in the stands, as they remained stranded in Pakistan.
Although Pakistan had a substantial local fan base for their World Cup opener against the Netherlands in Hyderabad on Friday, none of their media contingent or fans were able to attend the event. The sour political relationship and intense rivalry between Pakistan and India have largely limited their cricket encounters to multi-team events like the World Cup.
In an official statement, the PCB expressed its profound disappointment with the uncertainty surrounding the issuance of Indian visas to Pakistani journalists and fans covering Pakistan’s matches in the ICC World Cup 2023. The board emphasized that it had once again reminded the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) of their respective obligations outlined in the Host agreement to ensure visas for fans and journalists of participating teams.
The statement revealed that Zaka Ashraf, Chairman of the PCB Management Committee, had met with Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary, Syrus Sajjad Qazi, to express concerns about this visa issue. Ashraf urged the Pakistani government to engage with India’s Home Ministry through the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi to resolve the matter. He also acknowledged Indian media reports regarding security concerns and requested a thorough evaluation of the safety and security of the Pakistan squad during their stay in India, emphasizing their paramount importance.
Visas for the Pakistani cricket team itself were granted just 48 hours before their departure, marking their first tour of India since the T20 World Cup in 2016.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) recently assured Indian media that they were collaborating with the BCCI to expedite the issuance of visas for Pakistani fans and journalists. An ICC spokesperson stated that securing these visas was a responsibility of the host (BCCI) and that they were working diligently with full support to resolve the issue.
On the field, Pakistan commenced their World Cup campaign with an effortless victory over the Netherlands on Friday. Their next challenge is against Sri Lanka, a match between two former champions scheduled for Tuesday. The most anticipated match of the tournament is set for October 14 when Pakistan faces arch-rivals India.
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