The ICC is "comfortable and confident" that the 2025 Champions Trophy, scheduled to be held in Pakistan, will go ahead as planned.

The PCB was awarded hosting rights for the event last week, the first ICC global event it has been allotted after the 1996 World Cup (it lost the co-hosting rights for the 2011 World Cup due to security concerns). In the wake of a couple of recent pullouts from bilateral tours to the country, by New Zealand and then England, as well as remarks by Anurag Thakur, the Indian sports minister, questions have inevitably cropped up about that particular event.

Asked whether the ICC was confident that teams would travel to Pakistan, the governing body's chairman, Greg Barclay, said, "From what we can see, absolutely. There has been international cricket in Pakistan for a few years, all of it with the exception of what happened in the last few weeks.

"We wouldn't have awarded the event if we didn't think Pakistan was capable of hosting it. We think it is an exciting opportunity for them to be able to host a world event for the first time in a long time. I'm sure, as with all countries, they will put together appropriate security plans to deliver the event. We're comfortable and confident it will go ahead."

After the 1996 ODI World Cup, Pakistan was scheduled to host the Champions Trophy in 2008, but the event was postponed because of a deteriorating security situation in the country around that time. That culminated - for cricket at least - with the attacks on the Sri Lanka team in Lahore in March 2009, which led to the Champions Trophy being moved to South Africa. It also meant Pakistan losing out on a co-hosting spot for the 2011 50-over World Cup.

Over the last few years, however, an increasing number of countries have played bilateral series in the country, including West Indies, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, South Africa and a World XI. A number of foreign players have also played in Pakistan for franchises in the PSL.

That confidence in touring Pakistan hit a roadblock this season with the late pullouts by New Zealand first - on the back of a security threat they received - and then England, for reasons that were never made fully clear.

Both countries, however, are working towards a schedule to visit in 2022. And the home season is looking brighter: West Indies women have recently completed a series of three ODIs in Karachi and the men's side is expected to tour in December. More significantly Cricket Australia has confirmed it will - as things stand - fulfil its commitment to a first tour of Pakistan since 1998-99 in February next year.

What will be out of the ICC's control, however, is the status of India in Pakistan. Pakistan have played in India - in the 2011 World Cup as well as the 2016 T20 World Cup - but India's last match in Pakistan was all the way back at the 2008 Asia Cup.

Thakur, the Indian sports minister, expressed apprehensions about his country's participation in the 2025 event. And Barclay acknowledged, there was little the ICC could do about it.

"We know it's a challenging issue," Barclay said. "From my point of view, I can't control geo-political forces. I just hope cricket can be a force to help improve relations between countries. One of the great things sports can do is to help bring nations together. If we can do something in a small way to contribute to that, that's fantastic."

Afghanistan 'a challenging situation'
Also out of the ICC's control is the status of women's cricket in Afghanistan. Ever since the Taliban assumed power in the country in August, there's been a lack of clarity around women's cricket in the country; the Taliban's position on women's rights have always been regressive.

A functioning women's cricket programme, however, is a criteria Full Members of the ICC have to fulfil. There have been calls for Afghanistan's status to be rescinded because of the implications of the Taliban rule on women's cricket; Australia cancelled a Test they were due to play this season against Afghanistan for this reason.

The ICC set up a working group to review the status of the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) and cricket in the country at its recent board meeting. The group is made up of Imran Khwaja, Ross McCollum, Lawson Naidoo and Ramiz Raja. The ACB is itself in the midst of a power struggle - competing forces tried to represent the board at the ICC meeting, but were told by the ICC to work the situation out among themselves. The board chief executive was invited to the ICC meeting but did not attend.

Barclay said the position for now would be to continue monitoring the situation, though he indicated that there were some signs from the country of a commitment to women's cricket.

"There are certain criteria any country needs to comply with to remain a member of the ICC," he said. "At present we haven't seen any transgression so we will continue to support them as a member and encourage them to continue to take an inclusive approach to cricket.

"It is a challenging situation. It was before August as well. All we can do is to continue monitoring the situation. Hopefully things will settle down, we'll be able to see women's cricket continue to grow. We accept it's coming off a very low base, there's cultural and religious reasons for that. There were slow but perceptible progress being made prior to August. We'd like to see that continue. We're getting some messages that will be the case, that a commitment will be made to women's game so let's just wait and see."