Who did ‘India’s bidding’ to spoil NZ tour?

Ansar Abbasi
Saturday, Sep 18, 2021

ISLAMABAD: A foreigner, presently stationed in Islamabad, allegedly did India’s bidding to get the New Zealand cricket tour to Pakistan cancelled by sharing a fake security alert with the touring team management.

Interestingly, on August 21 Indian newspaper The Sunday Guardian had already tried to spoil the tour when it reported, “New Zealand’s cricket tour of Pakistan, slated for next month, has come under terror threat with an imminent possibility of the touring cricketers being attacked by one of the many terror groups active in the volatile region.”

The newspaper had claimed that former TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan had said that the Islamic State (IS) set-up in Pakistan was engaged in preparing for the attack on New Zealand players. Richard Boock, manager public affairs, New Zealand Cricket, had then told The Sunday Guardian that on the matter of security, the body goes by the advice it receives from an independent team of consultants.

Satisfied with the security arrangements, when the New Zealand team finally visited Pakistan, the foreign diplomat supposedly conveyed the ‘threat’, which was termed by the Pakistani authorities as a mere hoax, to the visiting New Zealand team management leading to the abrupt and shocking cancellation of the tour.

The authorities here are probably are aware of who did the alleged bidding for India that spoiled the New Zealand cricket tour to Pakistan.

No specific threat alert was shared by any intelligence agency of the country, including the ISI, IB, MI and the Police Special Branch. The Special Branch had only asked the authorities to take proper security measures in view of the Chehlum of Imam Hussain (RA) and the New Zealand cricket team tour.

The security arrangements were foolproof and up to the expectations of the touring cricket team management and their security officials. But the diplomat is supposed to have shared with New Zealanders a fake security alert that caused the alarm bells to ring.

Despite all the assurances from the Pakistan government and a positive security assessment, New Zealand Cricket ultimately cancelled its Pakistan tour, citing “security threats” just before the start of the first ODI. The Black Caps were to play Pakistan this evening in the first of three ODIs in Rawalpindi, before moving to Lahore for a five match T20 series.

Interestingly, the New Zealand cricket tour to Pakistan was organised and scheduled following the complete satisfaction of and clearance from the New Zealand security officials.

A team of New Zealand security experts was even here during the last tour of the South African cricket team to assess the security arrangements. They were fully satisfied and had left without any doubt about the security arrangement made for the South African team.

New Zealand on Friday unilaterally decided to postpone the series even though Pakistan had made foolproof security arrangements. A senior Rawalpindi police official told The News that the security arrangements made for the visiting cricket team were equal to that of the president and the prime minister.

During the last few days of their practice in the Rawalpindi cricket stadium, none of the players or any member of their management showed any concern or hinted at any lapse in the security arrangements.

It is said that the security arrangements for a match day are always of a much higher level. More than 4,000 security personnel and police officials were deployed besides over a dozen check points established to allow the spectators to enter the three-kilometer zone surrounding the stadium. The verification of each and every spectator was being done to check his/her identity from the Nadra and Covid vaccination records.