Friday Sep 17 2021
Web Desk

UK envoy rejects reports of involvement in cancellation of Pak vs NZ tour

Web Desk
— AFP/File
— AFP/File

  • NZ authorities took the decision independently, UK envoy says.
  • "I recognise that this is a sad day for cricket fans in [Pakistan]."
  • NZ authorities had called off tour to Pakistan citing "security alert."

Speculation that the British High Commission was involved in the Pakistan-New Zealand tour being called off is untrue, British High Commissioner to Pakistan Christian Turner said Friday.

New Zealand Cricket, earlier in the day, had cancelled its tour of Pakistan after informing the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) of a "security alert", a statement issued by the board had said.

UK envoy Turner said the New Zealand authorities had taken the decision independently, as it was theirs to make, turning down reports of Britain's involvement in the matter.

Following New Zealand's decision, an England Cricket Board (ECB) spokesperson said the body would decide on its tour to Pakistan within the next 24-48 hours.

"I recognise that this is a sad day for cricket fans in [Pakistan] & around [the world] who were looking fwd to the series," the British envoy to Pakistan said in a tweet. 

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said that the safety of the players is paramount as she supported New Zealand Cricket's decision to pull out of its Pakistan tour.

"When I spoke with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, I conveyed our thanks for taking care of the New Zealand Cricket team," Ardern said in a statement sent to Reuters.

"I know how disappointing it will be for everyone that the game hasn’t gone ahead, but we totally support the decision that’s been made. Player safety has to be paramount.”

'NZ does not have substantive proof of threat'

The New Zealand authorities do not have substantive proof of threat in Pakistan, Federal Minister for Interior Sheikh Rasheed had said while addressing a press conference in Islamabad.

The interior minister said New Zealand took a unilateral decision to cancel the Pakistan tour despite the country's tight security arrangements for the team.

Rasheed said Pakistan had proposed holding the matches without spectators, but the New Zealand authorities did not agree to that. Following this, the Pakistani officials spoke to Prime Minister Imran Khan — who is currently in Tajikistan.

"The prime minister was briefed on the matter. He then called New Zealand Prime Minister [Jacinda Ardern] and assured her that there was no security threat," the interior minister said.

"The tour has been cancelled on the basis of a conspiracy. This is their [New Zealand's] problem. The National Crises Management Cell and other institutions had tried to convince them, but New Zealand's government has taken a unilateral decision," he said.

Rasheed, in response to a question, said it was not suitable to name the conspirators, as he noted that Pakistan has die-hard cricket fans who wish to see the sport take place on their home ground.

"This conspiracy has been hatched to tarnish the image of Pakistan, as its image was going to build up due to the role it is playing for peace in the region," the interior minister said.