Pakistan ready to host top cricketing nations in 2021

A general view of the empty cricket spectators enclosures before the start of the T20 cricket match between Peshawar Zalmi and Multan Sultans at the National Cricket Stadium in Karachi on March 13, 2020. (AFP/File)
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Updated 21 November 2020

Pakistan ready to host top cricketing nations in 2021

  • South Africa is due to visit Pakistan in January to play a two-test series
  • Test cricket only returned to Pakistan last year after a decade, when Sri Lanka played two five-day games

ISLAMABAD: After nearly a decade of hosting no home test matches due to a militant attack on a rival team's bus in 2009, Pakistan says it's ready to welcome major cricketing nations like South Africa, New Zealand, England and West Indies in 2021.
“We’re working hugely in terms of building relationships, nurturing those relationships with (other) cricket boards,” Wasim Khan, chief executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board, told The Associated Press.
South Africa is due to visit Pakistan in January to play a two-test series which is part of world test championship, followed by three Twenty20s.
New Zealand is penciled in for three ODIs and five Twenty20s in September, followed by two Twenty20s against England at Karachi. It will be England's first tour to Pakistan since 2005.
The PCB has also planned a home series against West Indies in December.
“We have a chock-a-block eight to 10 months coming up for us on the road playing at home,” Khan said. “We’re also in discussions with Cricket Australia. They’re due to be touring during the 2022 season, we’re looking at them coming for an extended period of time.”
When Sri Lanka's team bus came under a militant attack in March 2009, the doors of international cricket remained shut on Pakistan until Zimbabwe became the first test-playing nation to play limited-overs series at Lahore in 2015.
A bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricketers, part of a larger convoy, was fired upon by 12 gunmen near Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. The cricketers were on their way to play the third day of the second test against Pakistan.
Six Pakistan police officers and two civilians were killed and six members of the Sri Lanka team were wounded. The rest of the test match and tour was called off.
Test cricket only returned to Pakistan late last year when Sri Lanka played two five-day games at Rawalpindi and Karachi. Bangladesh also played a test match before its second test was called off due to COVID-19.
In between the Zimbabwe and Bangladesh tours, a franchise-based domestic Twenty20 league — the Pakistan Super League — played a big role in pressing Pakistan's claims to host international games.
Players like Shane Watson of Australia and South Africa’s Dale Steyn and Faf du Plessis were among some big names that toured Pakistan and have played for various city-based franchise teams. Khan believes these players had a significant role in portraying Pakistan’s improving image among cricket-playing nations.
“A lot of these players go back to their own countries … and say, you know what? Pakistan is one of the safest places to play,” Khan said. "These are those cricketers who are associated with their own cricket boards, who are international cricketers, who perhaps had a (different) perception of Pakistan before they came here.”
Tight security with cricket team buses heavily guarded by armed personnel is quite normal in Pakistan whenever overseas contingents travel to the stadium from hotels, often blocking already heavy traffic on major roads of big cities like Lahore and Karachi.
“Yes, we’ll continue to provide state-level security for as long as possible, we’ll never become complacent,” Khan said.
Khan also wants to organize a limited-overs series against neighboring Afghanistan somewhere next year, after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, a former cricket captain for the country visited Kabul and extended an invitation to the Afghan national team this week.
“We will do everything we can to find a slot in the calendar to arrange fixtures against Afghanistan,” Wasim Khan said.
While Khan has managed to liaise with almost all the cricketing boards around the world since he joined the PCB last year, he doesn’t expect a resumption of the Pakistan-India cricket rivalry anytime soon.
Political tensions between India and Pakistan, especially over a long-standing territorial dispute in the Kashmir region, have seen both countries playing against each other only in major international tournaments like Champions Trophy and World Cups.
“Should we be playing India? Absolutely,” Khan said. “Could we be playing them? Probably not for the foreseeable future.”


Pakistan says no possibility of recognizing Israel before just settlement of Palestinian issue

Updated 24 November 2020

Pakistan says no possibility of recognizing Israel before just settlement of Palestinian issue

  • Prime Minister Imran Khan recently admitted that his administration was under pressure to recognize Israel
  • Pakistan's foreign office says the country supports Palestinian right to self-determination

ISLAMABAD: The foreign office of Pakistan on Tuesday "categorically rejected" speculation regarding any possibility of recognizing Israel by Pakistan, saying it believed that Palestinians should get the right to self-determination.
Referring to Prime Minister Imran Khan's recent statement on the subject, the foreign ministry spokesperson said that Pakistan was not willing to recognize the Jewish state until a just settlement of the Palestine issue -- that satisfied the Palestinian people -- was found.
"Pakistan steadfastly supports the Palestinian people's inalienable right to self-determination," said an official statement circulated in Islamabad. "For just and lasting peace, it is imperative to have a two-state solution in accordance with the relevant United Nations and OIC resolutions, with the pre-1967 borders, and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as the capital of a viable, independent and contiguous Palestinian State."
Prime Minister Khan recently admitted that his administration was under international pressure to recognize Israel, though he refused to name the countries that had reached out to him for that purpose.
He also maintained that his government would go with the choice that the country's founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, made and continue to stand by the people of Palestine.