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New Zealand cricket team pulls out of Pakistan tour

September 17, 2021

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has told her Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan a possible attack on the team forced the cancelation. Pakistani authorities say they had no information about any threats.

Pakistani police officers stand guard an enclosure of the Pindi Cricket Stadium
New Zealand were due to play their first test matches in Pakistan for 18 yearsImage: Anjum Naveed/AP Photo/picture alliance

New Zealand said on Friday that it would abandon its cricket tour of Pakistan, citing security concerns.

The cancellation came just hours before the Black Caps' first scheduled match in Pakistan in 18 years.

What do we know so far? 

"Following an escalation in the New Zealand government threat levels for Pakistan, and advice from NZC security advisers on the ground, it has been decided the Black Caps will not continue with the tour,'' New Zealand Cricket said on its website.

Pakistan's Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said the country's security agencies had not received any threat of a possible attack against New Zealand's cricket team. 

The interior minister said that Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had notified her Pakistani counterpart, Imran Khan, that the cricketers could be attacked outside the stadium. 

Khan, who is on a government visit of Tajikistan, tried to reassure Ardern, saying Pakistan has "one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team.'' 

 "He told her that the law and order situation is the best in our country and we give a guarantee that there is no security problem here, there is no security threat," Ahmed said.  

Pakistan was a no-go zone for international cricket teams for about a decade, after terrorists attacked the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009, killing seven people and injuring several others.     

International teams resumed touring Pakistan in 2019, without incident. 

Meet Humaira Farah, Pakistan's first female cricket umpire

Pakistan Cricket Board could protest pull out 

The Pakistan Cricket Board said it had "made foolproof security arrangements for all visiting teams" in conjunction with the government.  

PCB chairman Ramiz Raja expressed his disappointment over the situation, hinting at a possible protest to the International Cricket Council against NZC's unilateral decision. 

"Crazy day it has been! Feel so sorry for the fans and our players,'' Raja tweeted. "Walking out of the tour by taking a unilateral approach on a security threat is very frustrating. Especially when it's not shared!! Which world is NZ living in?? NZ will hear us at ICC,'' he added. 

NZC chief executive David White acknowledged the hosts' disappointment but said the advice he received made the tour impossible to continue, and he was supported by the New Zealand Cricket Players Association. 

"I understand this will be a blow for the PCB, who have been wonderful hosts, but player safety is paramount and we believe this is the only responsible option,'' White said. 

Pakistan is set to host another tour next month, when the England men's and women's teams are due for short two-match T20 series next month. 

jcg/rt, wd (Reuters, AP)