Mazari, who heads the Ministry of Interprovincial Coordination, under whose auspices the sport falls, said that the Bhutto-led committee is likely to submit its report to the prime minister anytime next week. At the same time, the new head of the PCB, Zaka Asharf, will attend an important meeting of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in South Africa. As BCCI secretary Jay Shah, who is also head of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), is also in Durban for the meeting, the Asian Cup and World Cup are expected to be discussed.
Although the Asian Cup schedule has not yet been released, it has been learned that there is a general consensus in the ACC that Pakistan and Sri Lanka will co-host the event. India is expected to play all of its matches in Sri Lanka. However, Mazari has stated that he is not in favor of this hybrid model. Pakistan is the host country, it has the right to host all matches in Pakistan. This is what cricket fans want, I don’t want a hybrid model, he said.
The minister said India’s reluctance to play cricket in Pakistan is puzzling to him. India brings sports into politics. I don’t understand why the Indian government doesn’t want to send its cricket team here. Some time ago a huge contingent of baseball players from India were in Islamabad for a game. There was also a bridge team coming to Pakistan. About 60 people were present, I was the chief guest of the event. They won here and left. Pakistani soccer, hockey and chess teams also go to India, he said.
Asked about India’s longstanding reservation about the safety of its cricketers in Pakistan, Mazari says it was not a valid argument. There was a New Zealand team here, before that there was an England cricket team in Pakistan. They had presidential security. Earlier, the fans here had given a warm welcome to the Indian team. Security is an excuse. We also hosted the Pakistan Super League (PSL), which had a lot of foreign players, he said.
Mazari called for resumption of cricket tours between the two countries. It is one of the most watched cricket matches on television. We want it, we want healthy cricket to be played. We expect a positive response from India, he said.
Meanwhile, the ICC has in the past urged Pakistan to go to India for the World Cup. Pakistan has signed an agreement to participate in the competition, we expect it toand will come, and have received no indication to the contrary, the ICC said in a statement. All members must abide by the rules and laws of their country, and we respect that. But we are confident that Pakistan will be in India for the Men’s Cricket World Cup.
The minister also reacted to a comment made by previous PCB chairman Najam Sethi that the BCCI had moved Pakistan’s World Cup match against India to Ahmedabad. In an interview with this newspaper, Sethi said: When I heard that announcement (India will play Pakistan in Ahmedabad), I smiled and said to myself: This is one way to make sure we don’t come to India.
Mazari made no such reservations. I don’t think Ahmedabad is going to be a problem. Pakistan has played there before. But there has to be a positive reaction from India before that. India has to play in Pakistan. Zaka Ashraf (chairman of the PCB) has gone to South Africa, we’ll see what gets resolved and what happens, he said.