British High Commissioner Christian Turner has dispelled speculations that the UK mission in Islamabad had any role in the cancellation of New Zealand cricket team tour to Pakistan.
“Speculation that British High Commission was involved in PakvsNZ tour being called off are untrue; this was a decision for the New Zealand authorities & taken independently,” Turner said in a tweet on his official handle.
The clarification comes after New Zealand abandoned its cricket tour of Pakistan on Friday over "security concerns" with Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed claimed that the tour was cancelled under an international 'conspiracy'.
Addressing a news conference in Islamabad, Rashid said that he will not name the conspirators. However, he added that some forces wanted to make Pakistan a scapegoat after what happened in Afghanistan.
“I recognise that this is a sad day for cricket fans in Pakistan and around the world who were looking forward to the series,” the UK high commissioner added in a tweet.
Speculation that British High Commission was involved in PakvsNZ tour being called off are untrue; this was a decision for the New Zealand authorities & taken independently. I recognise that this is a sad day for cricket fans in 🇵🇰 & around 🌍 who were looking fwd to the series— Christian Turner (@CTurnerFCDO) September 17, 2021
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke personally to New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern and informed her “we have one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team”.
“The Pakistan Cricket Board and the Pakistan government made foolproof security arrangements for all visiting teams. We have assured the New Zealand Cricket of the same.”
Ardern backed NZC's decision to end the tour. "I know how disappointing it will be for everyone that the game hasn’t gone ahead, but we totally support the decision that’s been made. Player safety has to be paramount," she said in a statement.
Moreover, the England Cricket Board said that it will decide on its tour to Pakistan within the next 24-48 hours.
"We are aware of New Zealand's decision to pull out of the Pakistan tour due to a security alert,” a spokesperson of the ECB was cited by Sky Sports as saying.
"We are liaising with our security team who are on the ground in Pakistan to fully understand the situation," the spokesperson said, adding that the ECB will then decide in the next 24-48 hours "whether our planned tour should proceed".
The English men and women teams are due to play two Twenty20s in Rawalpindi on October 13 and 14. The women's team is also due to play three ODIs in Pakistan on October 17, 19 and 21.
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