Indian security team assess Peshawar, Karachi
A five-member Indian security delegation has expressed its satisfaction with security measures in Peshawar, where the first ODI between India and Pakistan is scheduled to be played on February 6th.
According to a report in Dawn, Yashvordhan Azad, head of the delegation and senior police officer with the Indian Interior Ministry, told reporters that his team had no problem in giving the go-ahead to the Indian team to play in Peshawar, after security assurances had been given to them by the city's police force. The Indian team, which arrived in Peshawar in the early hours of the morning, met local law enforcers and left for Islamabad soon after, without visiting the Arbab Niaz Stadium, where the match will be played.
Azad said, "We do not need to visit the stadium to assess the security measures. Last time we inspected the ground and its surroundings and I hope the security will remain the same for the Indian cricket team's trip to Peshawar." Azad also hoped that in future, India would play a Test match at the venue.
Provincial Police Officer Riffat Pasha told reporters after the visit that they had guaranteed foolproof security measures during the Indian team's visit to the city. He added, "We will provide security to the Indian team not only in the ground, but also at the hotel and routes of their travelling."
Along with Karachi, Peshawar has been hardest-struck by 9/11 and the ongoing war against terror, which has seen visiting countries not only avoid certain venues but on occasion shorten or cancel tours altogether. Since then the Arbab Niaz Stadium has hosted only two ODIs - Pakistan against India in March 2004 and Pakistan against Zimbabwe in October 2004 - and only one Test match, against Bangladesh in August 2003.
Earlier in the day the team had visited the National Stadium in Karachi, due to host an ODI as well as a Test match against the tourists. The venue was overlooked on India's last visit for a Test match although the city was granted the right to host the opening ODI, a match whose euphoric atmosphere set the tone for the rest of the series.
Azad told reporters that although India had already played a match in Karachi, a Test match would involve different arrangements. "We've already seen the security arrangements which have been pretty good. Now this is about a Test match also, so we've come here to see the place. We've already had our discussions and accordingly we'll file a report on our return to India."
The trip to the National Stadium came after the Indian delegation had already met the Sindh Home Secretary as well as the province's senior police officials who had briefed them on arrangements being made for the Indian team.