M A I N   N E W S

Cricket tour of Pak on
BCCI team satisfied with security steps
K.J.M. Varma

Islamabad, February 11
Indicating that the Indian cricket team’s six-week tour of Pakistan next month is on, a top official of the Indian cricket board said today that the security measures taken by the hosts were satisfactory.

“We are satisfied with the (security) measures being planned by Pakistan,” said BCCI Joint Secretary Prof R.S. Shetty, who along with two other members of the Indian delegation discussed the security aspects with Secretary of the Pakistan Interior Ministry Tasneem Noorani yesterday.

Shetty, who visited the stadium in Peshawar today, told PTI over the phone that Noorani made a very detailed presentation about the security arrangement during the discussion.

Indian High Commissioner Shivshankar Menon after holding talks with the BCCI team yesterday, had said that the Indian cricket tour to Pakistan was on so far and an announcement would be made at the end of the visit of the Indian delegation.

In a separate interview to PTI, Noorani said “we have made fool-proof security arrangements... Security was the single point agenda which was discussed at length from all angles” with the Indian delegation.

He said Pakistan was not aware of any specific threats issued by militant groups to disrupt the Indian tour.

Referring to news reports that Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly faced threats from unidentified militant groups, Noorani said he was not aware of any such information.

“We have made fool proof security arrangements. We have explained that security concerns were normal and nothing extraordinary,” said Noorani adding “security was the single-point agenda which was discussed at length from all angles.”

Shetty said the delegation was happy as Pakistan had agreed to appoint a co-ordinator who could liaison with the Indian officials to improve the arrangements during the tour.

He also denied rumours that his team planned to return to India before completing its eight-day tour. “We will visit all the six centres and see the arrangements before we go back.”

Shetty and his team inspected the stadium at Rawalpindi, near here, yesterday before flying to Peshawar, the headquarters of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province.

Peshawar, which borders Afghanistan, and Karachi are the two venues where India has expressed reservations playing at.

Multan, Faisalabad and Lahore are the other centres to be inspected before the Indian delegation returns home on February 16. — PTI


Centre takes note of players’ concern
S. Satyanarayanan and M.S. Unnikrishnan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 11
The Union Home Ministry has expressed concern about the security aspects of the cricketers in Pakistan.

No decision has been taken at the government level on the tour as the issue is still in the BCCI’s court, a top official of the Union Sports Ministry said.

National selector and former India player Kirti Azad told The Tribune that “the tour must take place”.

“As far as the government is concerned no decision seem to have been so far taken for not going ahead with the tour”, Mr Azad, who is a sitting Lok Sabha MP from Darbhanga (Bihar), said.

Mr Azad added that the resumption of cricket ties between India and Pakistan will further consolidate the peace process initiated by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

He said that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had assured VVIP security to the visiting players and it is the responsibility of the Pakistan government to ensure that.

According to sources six top players of the Indian cricket team, including captain Saurav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, have expressed serious concern about the possible security threats.

Top sources in the government said in the wake of the security concerns expressed by top Indian players, the Home Ministry has asked the BCCI to lay maximum emphasis on the matter while finalising the details with their counterparts in Pakistan.

Sources said the matter is presently in the court of the BCCI for thrashing out the finer contours of the proposed tour. Once the Centre is convinced of the security arrangements, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) will give the final go ahead.

Meanwhile, the BJP refused make a direct comment on whether the Indo-Pak tour should be undertaken.

“We have nothing to say right now on the tour.. the government will take an appropriate decision”, BJP spokesperson Arun Jaitley said. Mr Jaitley, is also the President of the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA).

BCCI sources said the Board would definitely make sure that the players are provided fool-proof security arrangements.

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