(Reuters) - The cricket boards of Pakistan and Afghanistan have cancelled all proposed fixtures between the two countries following Wednesday’s truck bomb in Kabul.
The powerful bomb hidden in a sewage tanker exploded in the morning rush hour in the centre of the city, killing at least 80 people, wounding hundreds more and damaging embassy buildings in the Afghan capital’s unofficial “Green Zone”.
Afghanistan’s intelligence agency said the attack had been carried out by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network with assistance from Pakistan. Both countries regularly accuse each other of supporting militant groups operating across the border.
The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) released a statement in the wake of the attack saying “no agreement of friendly matches is possible between both parties.”
“In light of the findings of security services and calls by the Afghan nation, the ACB hereby cancel all kinds of cricket matches agreement with the Pakistan Cricket Board,” the statement added.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) rejected the ACB’s statement on Thursday, describing the allegations as “baseless” and “irresponsible” and accusing the rival board of “playing politics”.
“The PCB strongly rejects the baseless allegations levelled by Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) in the wake of the tragic Kabul blast,” the PCB said on its website. (www.pcb.com.pk)
”While our sympathies are with the victims and families affected by the tragedy, we reject the irresponsible statement made by the ACB and hereby announce the cancellation of the proposed series between the two countries.
”The informal understanding with ACB last weekend was strictly subject to conducive security conditions in Afghanistan and now stands cancelled because of continuing insecurity and instability there.
“It is also deeply regrettable that the ACB delegation in Pakistan was at pains to insist that politics should not impinge on cricket but has now turned around and is playing politics by laying the blame for its troubles and inadequacies on Pakistan.”
Afghanistan and Pakistan were provisionally scheduled to play a Twenty20 match in Kabul later this year, followed by a match in Pakistan. The countries were also supposed to face each other in a full series at a yet-to-be announced date.
Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar