Islamabad:Cricket great Zaheer Abbas fears his country will be left in the international sporting wilderness if India refuses to tour in January for security reasons.
"We will be like orphans in international cricketing community," Abbas told the AP on Monday. "Already most of the Test playing countries are not touring Pakistan and if India does not come it will be worst for us."
India is scheduled to play three Test matches, five limited-overs internationals and a Twenty20 international during its Jan. 4-Feb. 19 tour to Pakistan.
However, there are doubts over the tour after terrorist attacks killed at least 172 in Mumbai last Wednesday. The Indian government had earlier refused permission to its junior hockey team to play five matches in Pakistan last month due to security concerns.
Australia postponed its tour to Pakistan last March, citing security concerns, and the Champions Trophy in September was also deferred for a year after four more teams - New Zealand, South Africa, England and the West Indies - expressed reservations over traveling to Pakistan.
"I think the Asian countries which are part of the International Cricket Council (ICC) should stand united in this hour of need and should continue playing the bilateral series," Abbas said.
The Pakistan Cricket Board is also considering an option of shifting the January series against India to a neutral venue in case.
"It will set a wrong precedent and moreover it will be a huge financial loss for the PCB," Abbas said.
Pakistan had earlier played Test matches against Australia and the West Indies at Colombo and Sharjah in 2002, but PCB chairman Ejaz Butt said last week the home board incurred financial losses at that time.
"How could we inspire youngsters in our country if we play at a neutral venue?" Abbas, who scored 108 first-class centuries, said. "We are placed at No. 6 in the ICC Test rankings and the only way to improve is if we play more Test matches."
Pakistan is the only one of the nine active Test playing nations which did not play a Test match in 2008.
Abbas, who scored 12 centuries and 5,062 runs in 78 Tests, said it was high time that Pakistan started taking its own decisions.
"Look, we have banned all the players who are competing in the Indian Cricket League and our cricket is almost stuck with this security scenario," he said. Pakistan has suspended all 19 players including present cricketers - Rana Naved, Imran Farhat, Imran Nazir and Abdul Razzaq - for joining the unsanctioned, rebel ICL in India.
"We should start taking our own decisions and lift suspension on ICL players," Abbas said. "By doing so we will make our team more strong in international cricket."
The Board of Control for Cricket in India has sought its government clearance over sending its team to neighboring Pakistan and is still waiting for the response.