ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said on Friday Prime Minister Imran Khan contacted New Zealand’s Prime Minister to discuss postponement of their cricket team’s tour to Pakistan.
The minister said in a tweet that Prime Minister Imran Khan had assured her that the New Zealand team was provided foolproof security in Pakistan.
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) September 17, 2021
He said that according to Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), New Zealand’s own security experts had expressed satisfaction over Pakistan’s security arrangements.
”Our intelligence agencies are among the best in the world”, the minister said and there was no security threat to the New Zealand team.
However, the Prime Minister of New Zealand requested Prime Minister Imran Khan for postponement of the visit in view of the policy of extreme caution, the minister said.
Ardern says safety paramount
On the other hand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that she totally supported New Zealand Cricket s decision to pull out of its Pakistan tour as the safety of the players was paramount.
"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.”
New Zealand pulls out of series
Earlier today, New Zealand on Friday pulled out of their cricket series against Pakistan over security concerns just minutes after the first one-day international was due to start.
The move is a massive setback to Pakistan, which has been trying to revive tours by foreign sides after home internationals were suspended in the aftermath of a terror attack on the Sri Lankan side in 2009.
"Following an escalation in the New Zealand Government threat levels for Pakistan, and advice from (New Zealand Cricket) security advisors on the ground, it has been decided the BLACKCAPS will not continue with the tour," New Zealand Cricket said in a statement.
Arrangements are being made for the team to leave the country.
New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said Pakistan had been "wonderful hosts", but "player safety is paramount and we believe this is the only responsible option".
The Kiwis are in Pakistan for the first time since 2003 and were due to play three ODIs, followed by five Twenty20 matches. They previously cut short a tour in 2002 after a bomb blast outside their team hotel in Karachi killed 14 French naval staff.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said New Zealand had made the decision unilaterally. "The PCB is willing to continue the scheduled matches," it said in a statement.
Before the match was to start, Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke with his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Adern "and assured her that New Zealand team is provided foolproof security", Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry tweeted.
Khan is himself a former international player and cricketing hero. "The security officials with the New Zealand team have been satisfied with security arrangements made by the Pakistan Government throughout their stay here," the PCB statement continued.