Serious crowd trouble tarnishes Karachi's reputation
Pakistan experienced football-style crowd trouble during the Twenty20 Cup final between Faisalabad Wolves and Sialkot Stallions on Saturday.
The problems started towards the end of the Faisalabad innings when sections of the 35,000 crowd started pelting fielders with bottles and stones. It soon became evident that there were inadequate security staff available to deal with a situation which quickly escalated.
Eyewitnesses said that there were no more than a handful of police on duty and a report in the Dawn newspaper claimed that those that were there "stood motionless as hundreds of youngsters even dared to walk and run leisurely on rooftops of the general enclosures." It was when they got away with that that they turned their attention on the players.
By the time reinforcements arrived, the situation had deteriorated further and some seating had been ripped up and thrown onto the outfield. Local sources say the problem was partially caused by the fact that entry was free and so many people attended who would not normally turn up to watch cricket. Conversely, many cricket enthusiasts were denied entry.
The Daily Times claimed that some spectators broke down fencing and invaded the outfield, forcing the police to resort to charging them with their lathis. It added that there were scuffles at the main gate when people were stopped from entering and fires were started in the Waqar Hasan enclosure. Sources say that there were arrests made.
The general sense that the organisation was bordering on chaotic was added to when the organisers declined to issue any media passes claiming that their budget for the tournament had all been spent. As a result, many journalists had to rely on being recognised by Pakistan board officials to gain entry to the media area.
It took almost two hours to restore order, and as a result the game eventually finished at 2.35am after match referee Taslim Arif ruled that no overs would be deducted from either side. "The reason for not curtailing the overs was simple since we didn't want the public from being deprived of watching a competitive game of cricket," he told Dawn. "Why should the majority suffer just because a few idiots created trouble."