ICC to monitor Pak's security situation

Pakistan's hosting of the Champions Trophy in September will be subject to ongoing scrutiny of the security situation in the country, the ICC said.

updated: June 22, 2008 17:30 IST
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Pakistan's hosting of the Champions Trophy cricket in September will be subject to ongoing scrutiny of the security situation in the country, the International Cricket Council said on Wednesday.

"The security situation anywhere in the world is very fluid, it can change from time to time," ICC's acting chief executive Dave Richardson said ahead of the Champions Trophy's launch ceremony.

"At this time we are comfortable with the decision that Pakistan has the ability to host the event and the fact is that we are proceeding with the arrangements," he added.

Richardson, ICC president Ray Mali and other ICC officials were visiting Pakistan to inspect the three Champions Trophy venues _ Lahore, Rawalpindi and Karachi _ and to meeting officials of the Pakistan Cricket Board and the government.

The Federation of International Cricketers Associations (FICA) recently expressed concern about hosting the event in Pakistan.

"There may be some players, organizations and member countries who might express some (security) concerns from time to time," Richardson said.

"But what must be remembered is that safety and security of players, teams, officials and spectators is always the concern of the ICC," he added.

In March this year, Australia refused to tour Pakistan due to security fears which forced the PCB to invite lowly rated Bangladesh for the five-match One-day series. The cancellation of that tour followed December's assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and widespread political instability surrounding February's elections.

Should the political situation become too dangerous for the tournament to be staged in Pakistan, it will be moved to Sri Lanka.

"We will be monitoring the (security) situation on daily basis from now on until the conclusion of the event and those parties who have concerns about the situation would be apprised," Richardson said.

Eight top teams in the ICC One-day rankings will compete in the Champions Trophy from Sept. 11-28. Australia, India, Pakistan and the West Indies are in Group A. South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and England are in Group B. The top two teams from each group will qualify for the semifinals, with the final scheduled for Lahore on September 28.

The ICC's executive board will meet in Dubai later this month, where members will discuss the security situation in Pakistan.

"Yes, the board will make a decision as to staging of the event because the Champions Trophy is one of the most important event in cricket calendar and it pits the best against the best," Richardson said.

The event coincides with Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, but PCB chief operating officer Shaft Naghmi said "we expect huge crowds because people simply love this game in Pakistan."

"The Champions Trophy is very important for cricket in Pakistan, not only we are expecting high quality cricket, it will be the first major event after a long, long time."