Karachi, Mar 20 : The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) plans to offer security cover generally reserved for visiting heads of state to competing teams and officials for September's International Cricket Council ICC Champions Trophy.
The board's Chief Operating Officer, Shafqat Naghmi, said that Pakistan will provide personal bodyguards to visiting players which is generally reserved for visiting VIPs.
"The tournament is under a cloud due to the current wave of bombings in the country that forced Australia to postpone a full Test and one-day tour earlier this month," he said.
"The Champions Trophy is still more than five months away, and we are hopeful that things will get better in Pakistan in the coming days. We see no reason why anybody should talk about taking the tournament away from here," Naghmi said.
Pakistan had offered similar security assurances to Cricket Australia (CA), but it decided not to approve that trip on security grounds. Speculations are rife that competing teams like Australia may withdraw from the Champions Trophy as well. Reports have suggested that Australia and New Zealand have raised security concerns over the eight-nation Champions Trophy.
According to The News, the ICC has allowed the Champions Trophy to stay in Pakistan in spite of such security fears, but their decision to name Sri Lanka as a back-up venue has only added fuel to speculations that it may be planning to relocate the tournament.
"PCB officials remain confident that the tournament will go ahead here according to schedule. We are working on improving the infrastructure for the Champions Trophy and are in close contact with the ICC to sort out other details involved in the staging of such a mega event. The ICC officials are coming here to discuss the tournament budget and to inspect the venues and other arrangements. Any security inspection is not on their agenda," Naghmi said.