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11 June 2023

Indo-Pak World T20 clash under cloud over 'Pakistan specific' threats [video]

Pakistan and India supporters pose with their flags outside of the ground during the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup match between India and Pakistan at the Adelaide Oval on February 15, 2015 in Adelaide, Australia. (Getty Images)

By Agencies

India's cricket board on Tuesday criticised authorities in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh after they refused to provide security for an upcoming India-Pakistan World T20 tie, citing a January attack on an Indian army base.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said Sunday that the match should be moved to another venue in the wake of stiff opposition from war veterans.

He has threatened not to provide security for Pakistan's players at the Himachal Pradesh cricket ground in the Himalayan town of Dharamsala where the clash is due to take place on March 19.

The much awaited India-Pakistan is match is to be played in Himachal Pradesh's Dharamsala on March 19.

Singh added the Indian cricket board must respect the sentiments of war veterans.

"If (cricket board) they have empathy, sympathy and respect for our late security personnel, they must accept their (defence personnel) small demand. There could be any other match. They (defence personnel) are not against holding of the match. They want that match against Pakistan should not take place here. They are not opposed to match against any other country," said Singh in provincial capital Shimla.

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Anurag Thakur said that the state should not play politics over sports.

"The country and the state will be maligned if they fail to provide security at the eleventh hour. I think this issue shouldn't be politicised. If Assam state can hold South Asian Games, where more than 100 Pakistan athletes participate, why is Himachal government failing? I think this issue shouldn't be politicised. It is matter of country's pride," Thakur said in New Delhi.

Himachal Pradesh is ruled by the country's opposition Congress party.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan said on Monday that while Pakistan has decided to participate in World T20, the security concerns required strict security measures in place at India.

He said there were specific threats and it had already been communicated to the International Cricket Council (ICC).

"We told ICC that we had Pakistan specific threat, not general, for example Australia said they wouldn't be visiting here because of the law and order situation here. The threats that were coming from there (India), were Pakistan specific," Khan told reporters in Lahore.

The 2016 Twenty20 World Cup will be held from March 8 to April 3 across various Indian cities.

"We got the permission from our government to go into the World Cup T20. Now, the security is your (India's) responsibility. Our team is coming. You make the security arrangements. You provide complete security to them like we gave security to Indian team here in 2004 and 2006," Khan said.

"I am sure the public there will want us to play matches there. There is lot of interest there in India and here in Pakistan. I saw lot of interest in Bangladesh. I have returned from there yesterday. This match (between India and Pakistan) was fully booked and the stadium was packed,"said Khan.

On February 27, India beat Pakistan by five wickets in an action filled-match of Asia Cup staged in Mirpur.

Indian cricket board secretary Anurag Thakur accused the state of playing politics and said the country regularly provided security for Pakistani sportsmen and women.

"The venues of the World Cup matches were decided one year ago, the allotment of matches was decided six months ago," said Thakur.

"By claiming that you cannot provide security, you are only giving credence to Pakistani claims that there is a security threat to their team in India. It's about the country's image."

Pakistan have already voiced concerns about security in India, saying there were specific threats from Hindu activists who forced the cancellation of a meeting between cricket officials from the two countries in Mumbai last October.

The South Asian arch-rivals have not played a bilateral series for more than three years amid diplomatic tensions.