Terror threats cloud IPL after Pakistan snub: Report

The IPL's snub to Pak players for the third edition has reportedly raised fears of terror strike and that has left the authorities extremely concerned.

updated: February 26, 2010 11:00 IST
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New Delhi:

The IPL's snub to Pakistani players for the third edition has reportedly raised fears of terror strike and that has left the Indian cricket authorities extremely concerned.

According to a report in The Independent, the cricket authorities are worried that there could be a terrorist strike from a Pakistan-based outfit al-Qa'ida group against the IPL that starts on 12 March.

"The Indians are concerned about internet comments which have been made by al-Qa'ida groups that the absence of Pakistani players makes this year's IPL an even more legitimate terror target," the report says.

There was furore over the exclusion of Pakistani players from the IPL 3 with some IPL team owners expressing unhappiness about the decision, while some expressed doubts on their availability. This added more bitterness to the relations between the two parties.

However according to the report, Indians would now be prepared to allow Pakistani players back but on condition that the President of Pakistan Asif Zardari sacks PCB chief Ijaz Butt.

"We have approached the Pakistani President and told him that, for the sake of sub-continental cricket, he should exercise his power as patron and sack Butt. Without Butt's removal our two boards cannot work together. In the past, despite political problems between our two countries and even with the armies squaring up to each other, the two cricket boards worked together. But now we cannot because of Butt. In the present situation this could put the IPL under threat," a BCCI official told The Independent.

The relation between BCCI and PCB was always cordial despite the political and diplomatic tensions between the two countries, but it soured last year after the World Cup matches were shifted out of Pakistan following the terror attacks on Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore. The 14 matches due to be played in Pakistan were reallocated, with India taking a major share.

PCB chief Ijaz Butt had accused India for the move that isolated Pakistan on the cricket map. Pakistan since then have not hosted any team. His remarks definitely did not go too well with the Indians and that perhaps played no small part in keeping the Pakistani players out.

"The Indians have probably calculated that their demands to remove Butt would find favour in Pakistan, where he is hardly the most popular man following the country's dismal recent showing in Australia. Many see this former Pakistani Test cricketer as a political appointee: he is the brother-in-law of the country's defence minister and an important member in Punjab of Zardari's Pakistani Peoples Party. In a land where cricket and politics are inextricably mixed and where both have many factions, Butt has not only faced criticism from former cricketers such as Javed Miandad but also politicians. His b te noire is the Pakistani parliamentarian Jamshed Dasti," the report said.

So it remains to be seen if the IPL doors will open for Pakistan players, in case Ijaz Butt is shown the doors. The Indians are clearly hoping their pressure will see his removal and ease their fears about their precious money-spinning tournament.