Bangladesh postpones Pakistan tour over security
by AFP

Event:Pakistan in Bangladesh 2008/09

DateLine: 18th March 2009


Bangladesh has postponed a tour by the Pakistan cricket team because of security concerns after last month's military mutiny in Dhaka, dealing a fresh blow to international sport in South Asia.


Sports Minister Ahad Ali Sarker said late Tuesday the government had put a hold on tours by foreign sports teams because all security resources were focused on a probe and manhunt after the revolt, which left more than 70 dead.


The decision comes two weeks after the Sri Lankan national team were fired at by militants in Lahore, with seven players and an assistant coach wounded and Pakistan knocked off the map as host of international sports events.


"We have had to suspend the tour for the time being because of security concerns," said Sarker.


"Our law enforcement agencies are at the moment hunting rebels wanted for last month's mutiny in Dhaka so it's not possible for us to give fool-proof security to the Pakistani cricket team."


Pakistan were originally scheduled to play two Twenty20 matches and five one-day internationals from March 10-22.


More than 70 people died in Dhaka when rank-and-file border guards turned on their superiors, killing at least 56 senior army officers, during a 33-hour bloody revolt in the capital late last month.


The events threatened the future of Bangladesh's recently elected civilian government and exposed deep tension between it and the military.


Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) spokesman Rabeed Imam told AFP that both countries were hopeful a new itinerary could be organised.


"The Bangladesh Cricket Board is trying to work out a new schedule with the Pakistani cricket authorities."


Coach Jamie Siddons said the Bangladeshi team had been banking on Pakistan's tour to help them prepare for the Twenty20 World Cup to be held in England in June.


"We've got no real cricket until then, which is a bit of a concern for us," Siddons told AFP, adding he was hopeful the tour could take place towards the end of the year.


"We've got a small gap in our schedule in October, and Pakistan has a gap around then too so we may be able to figure something out."


Cricketing authorities across the globe have raised concerns about the future of the sport in South Asia following the attacks in Lahore, which were carried out by unknown gunmen.


Pakistan has faced criticism about poor security for the Sri Lankan team with questions raised about the nuclear-armed nation's ability to combat Taliban and Al-Qaeda linked militants.


Before the Lahore attacks, Pakistan was already seen as a danger zone for international teams, who refused to tour there in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and the ensuing "war on terror."


In November 2008, India did not tour the country amid heightened tension following attacks in Mumbai, which New Delhi blamed on militants based across the border.


The International Cricket Council on Monday moved the elite eight-nation Champions Trophy from Pakistan to South Africa after several teams refused to play.

(Article: Copyright © 2009 AFP)


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