Rauf has 'no concerns' about travelling to India
Asad Rauf, the Pakistan umpire, says he has no concerns about travelling to India to officiate in the two-Test series between India and England with the BCCI guaranteeing the ICC of stringent security measures for match officials.
Rauf, one of the two Pakistani representatives on the ICC's Elite Panel of umpires - the other is Aleem Dar - said he would travel to India as a "peace ambassador."
Relations between India and Pakistan have hit a low following the Mumbai attacks, with the Indian government alleging that the terrorists had a Pakistani link. Pakistan has strongly denied the charges but the four-year-old peace process between the two neighbours is at a standstill.
Concerns loomed over a Pakistani national traveling to India, but Rauf remained unperturbed. "I have no concerns at all about traveling to India," Rauf told Cricinfo. "The ICC has spoken to the BCCI and they have told them that extra security measures will be put in place for us match officials. I am happy to be going there. In fact, it is important to go there because we go as peace ambassadors. Sports and these things should not mix."
Rauf has received no notification from the Pakistan board over the ties between both countries, but he received confirmation of the schedule and itinerary from the ICC on Thursday and will apply for his visa on Friday.
Vince van der Bijl, the ICC's umpires' and referees' manager, had asked the BCCI for security measures for match officials - Daryl Harper of Australia is the other umpire and New Zealand's Jeff Crowe the match referee - at a par with the players. Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive told Cricinfo everyone was an important participant in the Test match and must be accorded similar security measures as the players.
England's tour had been thrown in doubt after the team returned home during the ODI series following the attacks. However, they will fly to Abu Dhabi on Thursday for a training camp before returning to India for the Tests next week.
Rauf, who has officiated in 25 Tests, 56 ODIs and eight Twenty20 internationals, last stood in a Test in October, between India and Australia in Mohali - which is also the venue for the second Test between India and England.