Touring Pakistan is risky!

HARARE - After all has been said and done, one thing is very clear; Pakistan is not a safe destination to travel to at the moment.

But sadly, the Zimbabwe cricket team will be travelling to the politically volatile South Asian country next Tuesday to play two Twenty20 matches and three One Day Internationals in Lahore.

Zimbabwe will become the first team in six years to tour the Asian country after a gunmen attack on the Sri Lanka team bus left players injured while six police officers and the driver died.

Due to Zimbabwe Cricket’s (ZC) precarious cash flow problems, the association went ahead and agreed to this tour.

“We have taken cognisance of all the factors for us to arrive at this decision, so let’s not be alarmist about the situation in Pakistan,” ZC chairperson Wilson Manase said when he announced Zimbabwe was going ahead with the tour.

But just reading and watching the news, it is clear that Pakistan is on fire at the moment due to Taliban insurgents hell-bent on assassinating Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.

Last Friday, the Taliban claimed responsibility for downing a Pakistan army helicopter that killed seven people, including diplomats and their wives.

The country’s Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, however, said the crash was the result of a mechanical fault.

The crash killed the Norwegian envoy Leif H Larsen, Philippines envoy Domingo D Lucenario Jr, the wives of the Malaysian and the Indonesian ambassadors, and two pilots and a crew member.

The attack on the army helicopter occurred just days after ZC managing director (cricket affairs) Alistair Campbell and some security experts had finished their pre-tour fact-finding mission in Lahore.

In fact, since their return, the violence has only escalated.

Only yesterday, the BBC reported that at least 43 people were killed and 20 injured in a gun attack on a bus carrying Ismaili Shia Muslims in the Pakistani city of Karachi.

A police official said six gunmen on motorcycles stopped the bus and fired indiscriminately at passengers.

According to the Guardian, printed leaflets found near the scene of the attack showed it was the work of Islamic State (Isis).

The fliers said they were avenging, among other things, the “torture of Sunni women by the army” and the “killing of our fighters by the Karachi police”.

There is nothing “alarmist” in these reports coming from Pakistan and it becomes a mystery why ZC is determined to send a team to the frontline of such vicious fighting.

Terrorists, especially Isis, have become so daring in recent years and the bigger the target the bolder they get.

In this case there is a potential danger that Isis may target the Zimbabwe delegation fully knowing that it will get world attention.

The Sports ministry and the Sports and Recreation Commission should have played a key role in this decision.

If something goes wrong during this tour, it is these two entities that will be held responsible for any harm which might befall the cricket team in Lahore.

Just five days before Zimbabwe concludes its tour, the city of Lahore will be marking the fifth anniversary of the May 28 Lahore Bombings.

At least 94 people lost their lives on that fateful day in 2010 when the Pakistan Taliban carried out simultaneous attacks on two mosques.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has budgeted at least $500 000 to cater for among other expenses paying almost 50 percent of the Zimbabwe delegation’s match fees and per diems.

According to Pakistan media, the PCB has increased the police details to 5 000 to protect the Zimbabwe delegation and they will construct helipads at all hotels where the team will be staying.

With the southern African team doing most of the travelling in helicopters, this will make them easy targets to rocket propelled grenades from the Taliban and Isis militants.

The Federation of International Cricketers Association (Fica) has warned the Zimbabwe players not to tour Pakistan.

Fica represents seven of the 10 Test playing countries but the Zimbabwe Professional Cricketers Association (ZPCA) in not an affiliate.

Despite that, Fica executive chairman Tony Irish termed the tour “an unacceptable risk”.

“We are very concerned about the safety of players, and any match officials who may be sent to Pakistan, should this tour go ahead,” Irish told the Associated Press.

“The risk assessment that we have received from Fica’s security consultants is that an international tour to Pakistan remains an unacceptable risk and teams are advised against travelling there at present.”


Comments (4)

All these Indians are trying to sabotage Pakistan cricket and Pakistan economy, as India is trying to show its dominance in the region. Zimbabwe's tour if done will be really Good for Pakistan and off course a lot of security should be provided and will be provided to show that all major cricket playing countries can visit and play.

Jimmy - 15 May 2015

Thank you Zimbabwe! All Pakistanis are grateful to you for helping Pakistan cricket in its time of need. One Pakistani Fan from Washington, DC, USA.

Kirby - 15 May 2015

thank you zimbabwe team and its officials for the tour to pakistan.inshaallah we will try to give you a state hospitality and you will see that pakistan is the most safest country in the world .

abid ullah - 17 May 2015

My dear brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe, We are neck deep in filthy indian politics of regional dominance which Pakistan is a huge victim to. you might disagree with my understanding but if you disagree with them on something as small as a cricket series you will find out what i mean. Pakistan is unfortunately facing violence that is true but it definitely not as bad a some incidents make it look. there is international community in Pakistan-in Lahore, there are foreigners everywhere. but worst come every single kashmiri and pakistani can lay their life for our kind Zimbabwean brothers. people in Zimbabwe have no idea how much this gesture means to us and we will prove it when you need us!!

kamran kashmiri - 23 May 2015

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