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News

PCB writes to Pakistan government for travel clearance for ODI World Cup

The board seeks advice on travel guidelines and on the five venues where Pakistan will play their nine league games

Umar Farooq
Umar Farooq
02-Jul-2023
Fans turned up with India and Pakistan flags at Newlands, India vs Pakistan, ICC Women's T20 World Cup, Cape Town, February 12, 2023

The India-Pakistan clash is slated for October 15 in Ahmedabad  •  ICC via Getty Images

The PCB has written a letter to Pakistan prime minister Shehbaz Sharif and the interior and the foreign ministry to seek an official clearance to travel to India for the ODI World Cup in October-November. The letter seeks advice on whether the Pakistan team is allowed to travel to India, and if so, if there are any reservations about any of the five venues for the Pakistan games, and if the Pakistani government wants to send a security delegation for reconnaissance.
The PCB wrote the letter on June 26 as a necessary step because unlike visiting any other country, touring India requires government permission due to strained political relations between the two countries. There is no deadline for the government to respond but the PCB will not travel without a clearance from the government. The PCB shared Pakistan's schedule with the government, which says the team will play its nine league matches in five cities, including the big clash against India in Ahmedabad on October 15.
"Soon after the World Cup schedule was announced last Tuesday, we wrote to our Patron, Honourable Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, through the Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) Ministry, copying the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Interior, requesting clearance to participate in the World Cup," the PCB told ESPNcricinfo.
"The decision to visit India and approve venues at which we can play our matches is the prerogative of the Government of Pakistan. We have absolute trust in the judgment of our government and will follow whatever is advised. It is entirely up to the Government of Pakistan the process it wants to formulate and follow before advising us on the next steps. If this requires sending an advance team to India to inspect the venues and hold meetings with the event organisers, then it will solely be the government's decision."
Even though the fixtures were officially announced - after a delay - last week, Pakistan were still reluctant to commit their participation without their government's clearance. Pakistan have not toured India since the 2016 men's T20 World Cup, and there has been a lot of speculation in the last year over the two teams touring each other for the upcoming Asia Cup and the ODI World Cup, to be hosted by Pakistan (originally) and India, respectively. The Asia Cup, which will be played from August 31 to September 17, will now be hosted in a hybrid model, by Pakistan and Sri Lanka because the BCCI said India would not travel to Pakistan.
The two teams haven't played against each other in any bilateral series for over ten years, and face off only at the ICC and ACC tournaments.
Pakistan's ministry of foreign affairs had already suggested that it was evaluating the team's participation in the World Cup and would convey its view to the PCB in due course. There is no clear status on the government's stance related to India, but recently foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was the first high-level Pakistani official to have visited India for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Summit in almost 12 years. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is also set to participate in the meeting of the Council of Heads of State (CHS) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to be conducted in a video-conference format on July 4 being hosted by India.
It is understood that with the term of the ruling government in Pakistan ending in August, the decision on whether the team will travel to India is likely to be deferred until the next government takes charge. The current government will probably not make a formal announcement at this stage. The matter could stretch further until closer to the departure date like it was in 2016 when India hosted the T20 World Cup.
In 2016, Nawaz Sharif's government gave the team a last-minute clearance to travel after sending a delegation to India for security reconnaissance. The PCB had threatened to pull out of the T20 World Cup unless they had assurance from the Indian government regarding the security of the Pakistan team, which eventually resulted in the India-Pakistan match moving from Dharamsala to Kolkata.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent