LAHORE: Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Wilson Manase on Monday said cricketing nations that are skeptical about security in Pakistan should visit the country right now for Zimbabwe’s ongoing tour.
“SRC [Zimbabwe’s Sports and Recreation committee] consulted with the ministry of foreign affairs and someone there said it might not be safe to visit Pakistan particularly after the Karachi incident, but Karachi is different from Lahore,” Manase said.
“I tried to see the officials in SRC and they kept on saying that they are busy, and time was obviously short for us as well as we had only two days to go before the team departs.
“So what I did was to consult with the relevant authorities in government, the defense forces – they have got the intelligence, they are the people who know what the situation is and they have given a go-ahead from that area. They told me it’s safe to go. Also, the team that came here to look at the situation gave a clearance and then I took the decision.”
Pakistan became a no-go area after the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan team but the Pakistan Cricket Board has been pushing hard to bring teams to Pakistan to revive international cricket.
Zimbabwe became the first Test playing nation to visit Pakistan for a T20 and ODI series to help change the perception of Pakistan in the international cricket community.
“I would like to indicate to the world – especially the Test-playing nations – that Pakistan is a safe country to play cricket,” said Manase.
“We need to encourage members of the ICC to relook at the position of not visiting Pakistan, and if they are watching how things have gone, they would realise that Pakistan, in the quest to have teams visit, have done great work to create an environment where cricket can be played safely.
“For the nations who remain sceptical, they should have sent some delegation to come and be part of this event and watch what is happening in Pakistan. That would have given them confidence. But wherever they are I believe they are watching. They are watching that the grounds are so full, they are watching the security given by the government and have understood Pakistan have the capacity to take any measures for the visiting team. I will brief them in the upcoming ICC meeting in Barbados.”
The tour was made possible with state-guest level security ensured for the visitors. The Zimbabwe team was warmly welcome by the Lahore crowd in the first two T20s which Pakistan won 2-0.
“We have been welcomed greatly by the general population of this country,” said Manase.
“In actual fact the hospitality we have received here, we have not received anywhere in the word where we have gone to play cricket. We have felt safe here because the cricket board in conjunction with the government has made us feel secure.”
Before the tour, some reports suggested that Zimbabwe players were reluctant to visit Pakistan but Manase said that no one had any misgivings.
“I can tell you that players were never reluctant. They were always ready to go, we never had any dissent within,” Manase said. “All players who were selected did come. We are safe, the players are safe, and there is no problem.