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Concerns remain over Pakistan’s security issues

Posted on: July 24, 2008

Pakistan’s chances of hosting the Champions Trophy in September have been pegged at “50-50” by an official who attended the ICC’s security briefing in Dubai on Sunday. The meeting was attended by board officials of the eight participating countries, broadcast executives, and players’ association representatives.

The ICC board will now take a final decision over the next 72 hours after its members discuss the issue over the phone, the official said. The ICC board, while taking a final decision, will also consider a report on Sunday’s security briefing.

“The briefing was detailed and comprehensive and it looks 50-50 at the moment for Pakistan,” the official told Cricinfo. “The players of four countries, Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa, have expressed some reservations over the security climate in Pakistan, and I would expect their boards to back them.”

Reports in British newspapers suggest that the ECB has already told its players that it cannot guarantee their safety in the light of recent bombings in Karachi and Islamabad.

Asked whether Sunday’s meeting discussed alternate venues for the tournament, the official said, “That topic was not touched upon at all in this meeting. That is for the ICC board to discuss.” South Africa has been projected as the possible alternate host, in case the ICC board decides against Pakistan, after Sri Lanka, the original stand-by venue, was found to have significant security concerns of its own.

The ICC said in an official statement that “until or unless the board decides otherwise, the tournament will proceed in Pakistan.” Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, later told reporters that Sri Lanka remains the alternate venue.

Lorgat said that the briefing by the ICC’s security consultants stressed “great satisfaction” at the security measures in place during the Asia Cup but added: “If it was up to the player representatives, they would prefer not to be in Pakistan. They have concerns because no guarantee on safety and security can be given by the PCB, the ICC or the security consultants. We can do everything in our power to secure and safeguard officials, but we can never issue guarantees.”

The ICC statement said, “While there was recognition the PCB had gone to great lengths to provide a high level of security during the Asia Cup and would do so again during the ICC Champions Trophy, concerns were expressed about the potential for threats beyond the PCB’s control.”

One compromise being touted is to move matches away from Karachi, considered the most risky destination, to Lahore and Rawalpindi.

Source: http://content-ind.cricinfo.com/iccct2008/content/current/story/361880.html

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