DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh’s cricket team will not go to Pakistan as planned later this month after the Dhaka High Court upheld a legal challenge to their tour and ordered a four-week delay, a lawyer said on Thursday.
Bangladesh had agreed to play a one-day international and a Twenty20 match on April 29 and 30 in what would have been the first full internationals in Pakistan since March 2009 when Sri Lankan cricketers and officials were attacked by gunmen in Lahore.
“The court by an order has restrained the Bangladesh government and the Bangladesh Cricket Board from going ahead with the national cricket team’s tour to Pakistan for four weeks,” said lawyer Hasan Azim, representing the two people who challenged the tour citing security concerns.
University lecturer Didarus Salam and a senior Supreme Court lawyer Kamal Hossain had jointly filed a petition in the Dhaka High Court earlier on Thursday, seeking an adjournment of the tour and asking why it should not be declared illegal.
Foreign teams have shunned Pakistan since the 2009 attack, which killed six Pakistani policemen.
Several Sri Lankan players were wounded in the incident, which also led to matches at the 2011 World Cup being taken away from Pakistan.
Since then, Pakistan have had to play their “home” matches at neutral venues.
Pakistan officials said they were surprised and disappointed by Thursday’s court ruling.
“We are surprised that a purely cricketing matter has been dragged into the courts,” PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf said. “We are deeply disappointed and sad that Bangladesh is not coming after confirming the tour last week.
“It is a big setback for Pakistan cricket and Pakistani cricket fans who were ready to welcome the Bangladesh team.”
Ashraf said the PCB had made a comprehensive security plan for the tour and sent it to the International Cricket Council (ICC) for approval.
“Everything was being put into place as far as security is concerned,” he said.
The PCB’s chief operating officer, Subhan Ahmed, told Reuters that if the four-week delay was enforced then Pakistan would not be able to host Bangladesh due to other commitments.
The Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) called for an independent report on the security situation in Pakistan.
“What’s required is not a stumbling, non-transparent and conflicted approach to this issue, but a proper, fully transparent, independent report on the safety of playing in the country,” Tim May, chief executive of the body which represents international cricketers, said in a statement.
“Only then will players feel comfortable contemplating whether it is time to play international cricket again in Pakistan.”
Editing by Amlan Chakraborty and Clare Fallon