Hosting eight matches of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) has helped Pakistan build a solid case in changing the country’s security perceptions around the world.
Pakistan had been deprived of hosting major international cricket and other sporting events since the terrorist attack on Sri Lanka cricket team in Lahore back in 2009. Hence, these eight matches were the longest cricket activity involving major international cricketers, which has taken place in Pakistan in a decade.
This PSL season, the fourth, hosted around 40 international cricketers in Pakistan, whereas during the first season, more than a hundred international cricketers had refused to play on Pakistan soil, when invited by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
According to the ICC Chief David Richardson, “The perception regarding Pakistan being a dangerous place is gradually changing and the level of comfort is growing all the time among the foreign players.”
Instability in the law and order situation in Pakistan has not only affected the sporting events, but has also served as a significant roadblock in terms of investment from foreign companies. Hosting foreign cricketers and footballers in Pakistan is bound to send a positive message with regard to the security situation in the country and can improve the confidence among foreign investors.
But despite the success of this year’s edition, the real litmus test regarding Pakistan and the PCB’s ability in fully hosting international teams would be when they decide to bring the entire PSL back to Pakistan. According to the Prime minister, Imran Khan, PSL will be held entirely in Pakistan next year. It remains to be seen if it’s a feasible and sustainable option, considering how the entire city traffic is affected due to the security measures that were in place near the stadium.
The PCB has already started renovating its stadiums in cities other than Karachi and Lahore in order to make the hosting of the whole PSL in Pakistan next year a reality. However, the efforts of the PCB need to be well supported by the central and provincial government.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2019.
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