Pakistan teams given clearance to travel to India
Pakistan's Interior Ministry has cleared the national men's and women's teams to travel to India for the World T20. The decision came after the government received letters from the West Bengal state government and Kolkata's police commissioner Rajeev Kumar, assuring special security measures for Pakistan's men's team while in Kolkata, where their match against India will be played on March 19. The teams are expected to arrive in India on Saturday.*
Najam Sethi, the chairman of the PCB's executive committee, met Pakistan's interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Khan on Friday and later informed the media that the government had received "solid assurances" from India's Ministry of Home Affairs.
"We have got the assurances we had wanted from India [the federal home ministry and the West Bengal government] about the security around the Pakistan teams and the good news for the fans is that Chaudhry Nisar has said the teams can travel to India," Sethi said. "Chaudhry Nisar said that the government has received solid assurances from the Indian home ministry so we can send our teams to India. The team will be leaving either tonight or tomorrow morning."
Cricket Association of Bengal president Sourav Ganguly had submitted the letters from Kumar and West Bengal's chief minister Mamata Banerjee to the ICC on Thursday afternoon. According to two senior CAB officials, the content in both letters, which were addressed to CAB, was brief: both Banerjee and Kumar stated they will take responsibility for the Pakistan team's security for the duration of their stay in Kolkata for the match against India.
On Thursday, India's home minister, Rajnath Singh, had said: "Anyone coming to India will be provided security, there is no doubt about it." Kuldip Singh Dhatwalia, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Home Affairs, reiterated the home minister's statement. "Home Minister has already said it on record that government of India will provide all the due and proper security. It is not only for the Pakistani team, but for any other team also, the government of India is committed to provide the security," Dhatwalia told ESPNcricinfo.
The match was shifted to Kolkata from Dharamsala due to concerns over security of the Pakistan team. It is understood that the ICC had specifically asked the Cricket Association of Bengal, the host association for the match, to obtain the assurances.
Both teams were scheduled to depart for India earlier this week, but the departure was put on hold due to the controversy over security assurances. The Pakistan men's team is currently in Lahore, while the women's team is in Karachi. The players were briefed by PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan on Thursday about the security situation in India.
The ICC moved the match from Dharamsala to Kolkata, after Pakistan asked for a change in venue. The request was based on the report of a three-member delegation from Pakistan that visited India to assess security arrangements in Dharamsala, and stated that 'security is not assured' at the venue.
The Pakistan government had initially cleared the team to play in India, but the board decided to put the visit on hold until they were guaranteed foolproof security. The PCB's move was prompted after the Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh had expressed concerns over providing security for the match in Dharamsala.
1203 GMT, March 11, 2016. The news piece was updated after the Pakistan government cleared the teams to travel to India