Two senior Pakistani officials, sports minister Aijaz Hussain Jahkrani and PCB chairman Ijaz Butt, have ruled out the participation of cricketers from that country in next year's IPL and the Champions League Twenty20 tournament later this year, according to media reports. This, the officials say, is a reaction to the boycott of Pakistani players in the IPL auction.
"We are the World Twenty20 champions, there is a Twenty20 World Cup this year, and they don't want us to win again," Butt was quoted as saying in the Sydney Morning Herald. "We will definitely not send any players for the IPL next time. Would you after this treatment?
"This is a conspiracy," Butt said. "They probably don't want our players from playing in these competitions.''
The decision puts a question mark over Shahid Afridi's participation in the Twenty20 Champions League tournament, as a member of the South Australia Redbacks side. Though it is a global tournament featuring the best domestic Twenty20 sides in the world, the Champions League is an Indian initiative, with IPL chief Lalit Modi officiating as its chairman.
Asked whether Afridi would be given clearance to play in the Champions League, Jakhrani said, "At the moment, I cannot say. We're looking at this matter." For his part, Champions League commissioner Lalit Modi told Cricinfo it was not an issue at all.
Afridi, currently in Australia with Pakistan's limited-overs side, said he wanted to play in the Champions League but would make his final decision after talking to the minister.
"I think [the boycott] is a fact, it is not my decision. I will speak to the Sports Minister and see what he is saying, and then I will make a decision. I want to play in the Champions League," Afridi said.
Later, in a press release that appeared on PakPassion.net, Afridi clarified that he was keen to move forward from the auction controversy.
"If I was invited to play in India again I would do so happily, they have great fans and great stadiums and I have many friends there," Afridi said. He also mentioned that sport should be used to build peace between the two nations.
Pakistani domestic sides were not part of last year's inaugural Champions League, which featured top teams from the IPL, Australia, England, West Indies, South Africa, Sri Lanka and New Zealand. However, one Pakistani international, Yasir Arafat, did play as part of the Sussex side.
Jakhrani also said that while the IPL and Champions League were off-limits to Pakistan players, they would not boycott tours to India for international matches. "All of this has been designed to isolate us, that is what India wants. We will not be isolated. There is a World Cup in the subcontinent in 2011 to be played in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. What if we make the final against India? We cannot quit, we will play. I think we should continue playing sports with each other," he said.