LAHORE: Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday assured full cooperation to Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif in ensuring security at the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final on March 5. The match is set to take place in Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium.
The army chief, in a telephone call, assured the chief minister that the army will do ‘whatever was needed’ to provide security for the league’s finale.
Following the attack on Lahore’s Mall Road on February 13, army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had pledged full support to the authorities for holding the match according to schedule. The government also decided to throw its weight behind the PSL authorities in a top-level security huddle convened by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Pakistan Super League final: Finishing touches put on security plan
Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, earlier in the day, also chaired a meeting of the provincial cabinet which was attended by representatives of Pakistan Army.
It was decided in the meeting that a shuttle bus service will be launched to facilitate fans and help them reach the Gaddafi Stadium.
The chief minister said the PSL final would be a mega event for Lahore and organisers would need to work round the clock to make it successful by ensuring a safe and peaceful environment for the match through foolproof security arrangements.
“It is the desire of the whole nation to dispose this event in Lahore. It is a matter of honour for Pakistan and we will never let them down,” the chief minister vowed.
Shehbaz ordered that the area in and around the stadium be kept spotlessly clean. He directed the concerned departments and authorities to perform their duties efficiently by keeping close liaison with each other.
He also asked the Provisional Cabinet Committee on Law and Order to review all the arrangements regularly and vowed to evaluate them himself regularly.
The endless queues at Bank of Punjab branches on Wednesday showed that Lahoris’ love for cricket has not faded in the slightest, as fans lined up to get their hands on Pakistan Super League final tickets.
Despite the recent wave of terror attacks in the country, people of the city seemed unfazed and were determined to get their pass to the final at Gaddafi Stadium on Sunday. In fact, the sea of people rushing to get tickets clogged traffic around BoP branches at Gulberg Main Boulevard, Edgerton Road and other adjoining areas.
Cricket fans scuffled with police and security officials as branches stopped ticket sales and closed their doors before the scheduled end of the day.
The queues started forming outside different branches of BOP since morning, but some fans were left disappointed when bank officials at the windows announced there were no tickets left for sale.
Foreign players back out
Quetta Gladiators’ foreign players Kevin Pietersen, Luke Wright, Rilee Rossouw and Tymal Mills have all pulled out of Pakistan Super League’s (PSL) final due to security concerns.
PSL final: Police finalise security arrangements
The quartet announced the decision via their official Twitter accounts after Gladiators emerged victorious in the play-off match against Peshawar Zalmi by just one run in Sharjah.
Following the playing quartet’s withdrawal, the Gladiators revealed that both team mentor Sir Vivian Richards and fielding coach Julien Fountain have decided to make the journey to Lahore.
The PSL chairman had earlier announced that the league final would be held in Lahore even if foreign players back out. (WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM AGENCIES)
Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2017.