Pakistan delegation to assess security arrangements in India
The Pakistan government has constituted a three-member security delegation, headed by a senior director of the Federal Investigation Agency, to assess the security arrangements for the Pakistan men and women's team in India for the upcoming World T20. The security team left for India on Monday and will take a final call by Wednesday.*
The government had initially granted the PCB permission to play in India, but the board has decided to put the visit on hold until they are guaranteed foolproof security. The PCB's move was prompted after the Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh had expressed his state government's difficulty in providing security for the India-Pakistan match in Dharamsala, scheduled for March 19.
Chaudhry Nisar Khan, Pakistan's interior minister, told a press gathering in Islamabad that the three-member team comprises Usman Anwar of the FIA, a PCB official and an official from the Pakistan High Commission in India. He said that it is the responsibility of the Indian government to ensure security of the Pakistan team, as the World T20 is an international tournament.
"I have asked the PCB chairman to wait, and the team can wait until the security clearance is assured," Nisar Khan said. "We can delay our team's departure till we are sure that they will be safe in India.
"If the security team's initial report is positive, our cricket team will leave for India as per schedule on Wednesday otherwise we may delay the team's departure. We not only want our team's security in hotels and on routes, but want our players to play cricket without any worries in grounds where thousands of people will accumulate for the match. We will only give a green signal for the team to go to India once we get security clearance."
The PCB has adopted a cautious approach regarding the security situation. PCB chairman, Shaharyar Khan, has said that the threats against the Pakistan team are specific and threatened to pull out of the tournament unless the PCB gets a clear message about the security situation from the Indian government. He also called for India to publicly acknowledge Pakistan's participation in the tournament and to also promise full security to their cricket team.
Pakistan have returned from Bangladesh, where they failed to qualify for the final of the ongoing Asia Cup. Both the men's and women's teams are scheduled to depart from Lahore on Wednesday for India, subject to the security clearance.
*07.00GMT, March 7: This article was updated after Pakistan's security delegation arrived in India.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson