India has promised “state-level” security to the Pakistan cricket team in response to apprehensions that terrorists would try to target them during the ongoing cricket World Cup.
“Indian officials promised special security to Pakistan’s cricket team,” said Foreign Office spokeswoman Tehmina Janjua. “The Pakistan embassy in New Delhi is in regular contact with the officials dealing with security matters.”
She said she hoped that the Indian government would do its best to provide water-tight security to the visiting Pakistan team in India. The two teams face each other in the semi-finals on March 30 in Mohali.
To a question about visas, she said that India would relax its visa rules for Pakistani fans travelling to watch the match. The government is in discussions with the Pakistan Cricket Board and Indian High Commission to arrange special visas for Pakistani fans, she said.
More than 5,070 visas have already been issued to Pakistanis to watch the semi final, according to Indian High Commission official in Islamabad. New Delhi informed Islamabad that those who have confirmed tickets would be issued visas as a priority, Janjua added.
She declined to comment on the Shiv Sena chief’s statement regarding threats to the Pakistani team. “It’s not the proper time to comment on the statement,” she said.
The head of the right-wing Hindu group said last month that Shiv Sena would decide if Pakistan should be allowed to play in Mumbai, if it reaches the final of the event in Mumbai on April 2.
Pakistan sent a formal request to New Delhi through its high commission earlier this week for special security for the cricket team.
Meanwhile, an Interior Ministry delegation is to leave for India to discuss counter-terrorism, narcotics control and humanitarian issues at the end of this week. The Pakistani cricket team’s security will also be discussed with Indian officials in New Delhi on March 28, a senior ministry official told The Express Tribune.
On Thursday, Interior Minister Rehman Malik voiced fears that the Taliban were active in India and would attempt to target Pakistani players in Mohali or Mumbai. Interpol has also foiled an alleged plan to target some cricketers during the World Cup in Colombo.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2011.