New Zealand Cricket (NZC) officials yesterday threw a veil of secrecy over the security threat that forced the abrupt cancelation of their tour of Pakistan.
Pakistani Minister of the Interior Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad said that New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan that the team feared an attack outside the stadium.
The cancelation is a huge setback for 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 Lanka side in 2009.
The announcement on Friday that the series had been called off came just as the first one-day international was due to start at the Rawalpindi Stadium, 10km from the team hotel in Islamabad.
In a brief public statement, Ardern said that the New Zealand government supported the cancelation, as “player safety has to be paramount.”
The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has been in contact with New Zealand Cricket, said that there was an “ongoing and significant threat from terrorism throughout Pakistan,” but would not comment on specific security concerns.
“New Zealand Cricket makes its own security decisions and has its own security arrangements in place for all international tours,” a spokesman from the New Zealand ministry said.
When NZC first announced that it was abandoning the Pakistan tour, it said the decision followed “a New Zealand government security alert” and advice from its own security advisers.
The side previously cut short a tour in 2002 after a suicide bombing outside their team hotel in Karachi killed 14 people, including 11 French naval engineers.
A NZC official told reporters no further comment was planned “at this juncture” and would not say if the security threat that caused the cancelation had been passed to the Pakistan Cricket Board or any other cricket-playing nation.
The England and Wales Cricket Board said that was to decide soon whether to withdraw from a tour planned for next month, while the West Indies and Australia are also scheduled to tour in the next six months.
Ahmad said that there was “no threat to cricket in Pakistan, there was no threat to New Zealand and there is no threat to England.”
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