The chances of reviving one of sport’s greatest rivalries virtually ended on Thursday after Pakistan denied its cricket team the permission to play in India citing security concerns, scuttling plans for a proposed bilateral tournament in December.
The two countries are also unlikely to play in the United Arab Emirates as proposed by Islamabad as the Indian government is not expected to give permission due to the presence of al Qaeda and the Islamic State in West Asia.
“The Pakistani government position is that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) cannot play in India without the government’s permission which has not been given. The government raised security and safety issues for the PCB regarding playing in India,” Najam Sethi, the chief of the PCB’s executive committee told.
Ties between the two cricket boards have soured in recent months over the BCCI’s dogged refusal to play in the UAE, which acts as the home venue for the Pakistan cricket team after a 2009 terror attack on the visiting Sri Lankan team.
“I don’t know why India doesn’t want to play in the UAE. It recently played IPL matches there. We are waiting for a fresh proposal from the BCCI. But our position is clear. We are not going to play in India,” Sethi insisted.
Talks between the two boards were called off in October after Shiv Sena workers stormed the BCCI’s Mumbai office ahead of a scheduled meeting between the two cricket chiefs, dimming chances of renewing cricketing ties that were snapped after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
Over 100 Sena members chanted slogans against Pakistan and PCB chief Shaharyar Khan, saying they wouldn’t allow cricketing ties with the neighbouring country as long as it continued to sponsor terrorists attacking India.
The PCB had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Board for Control of Cricket in India to play six bilateral series between 2015 and 2023 and claimed the Indian board agreed to play the first series in UAE in December.
“This is Pakistan’s “home” series which means that choice of venue is PCB’S right and all revenues accrue to PCB just as when it is India’s home series in 2017, all revenues will accrue to BCCI and the venue will be India choice,” said Sethi.
The PCB has also threatened if the BCCI failed to honour its so-called commitment, the matter would be taken to the International Cricket Council, which is currently headed by Indian cricket board chief Shashank Manohar.
Out of the six, four series will be hosted by Pakistan and the six tours will include up to 14 Tests, 30 ODIs and 12 T20s.
Newly-elected BCCI president Manohar recently called Khan, asking if Pakistan was willing to play in India so that the board could begin the process of obtaining clearances from the government.
“There were lots of talks with Mr Khan on various issues. But nothing was discussed officially. Also, the BCCI has not written to the government seeking a clearance for a series with Pakistan,” Manohar told.
India and Pakistan last time played a full series in 2007, before ties were suspended after the 26/11 terror strikes that killed 166 people amid evidence that the attack was planned from the neighbouring country. However, Pakistan visited India for a short limited-over series in December 2012.
Cricket between the two countries rank among the fiercest rivalries in the world but also often evoke political reactions, especially from the Shiv Sena, which has opposed any Pakistani presence in India. In 1999, Sena members dug up the pitch at Delhi’s Ferozshah Kotla stadium ahead of Pakistan’s cricket tour, in an unsuccessful bid to stop the match.
Sena workers also recently stopped a scheduled concert by Pakistani artist Ghulam Ali and threw ink at Observer Research Foundation chief Sudheendra Kulkarni for organizing a book launch of a former Pakistani foreign minister.