Cricket World Cup: Pakistan and India in diplomatic row over visas

Pakistan cricket team - Cricket World Cup: Pakistan and India in diplomatic row over visas
Pakistan cricket team - Cricket World Cup: Pakistan and India in diplomatic row over visas

A diplomatic row has broken out in the Cricket World Cup after Pakistan were forced to cancel a trip to Dubai before the tournament due to delays in getting through visas to travel to India.

The delay comes amid a tense political climate between India and Pakistan. The two nations have not faced each other in a bilateral match since 2013, with the Indian government only sanctioning matches in multi-team tournaments.

The 13th edition of the World Cup, which will be held exclusively in India, begins on October 5. Pakistan’s first warm-up game, against New Zealand in Hyderabad, is on September 29. That match is being played behind closed doors after local police failed to provide assurances for adequate security if the game was played in front of a crowd.

There is still confidence that Pakistan will be granted their visas in time to play in their first warm-up match. They now plan to fly from Lahore to Delhi on Wednesday, and straight onto Hyderabad.

With no direct flights between India and Pakistan, the Pakistan squad need to fly to the country via a hub. They had planned to have a training camp in Dubai before reaching India to help assist with their final preparations for the tournament.

Pakistan submitted their applications for the tournament several weeks ago but have yet to receive their visas from the Indian government. Every other side has received their visas successfully.

Before the World Cup the ICC were given assurances by the Indian government about visas being provided for all teams. The Pakistan government granted the team approval to play in the tournament in August, approving the side to play in all the host venues.

Ehsan Mani, the former chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board and the International Cricket Council said that if Pakistan’s visas were not granted swiftly, the ICC could claim damages from the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

“BCCI under its hosting agreement with ICC is obliged to provide visas in a timely manner for the team and officials, Pakistani journalists and fans,” Mani told Telegraph Sport.

“Between 2019-2021 I regularly raised this at the ICC Board meetings and ensured they were duly minuted.

“Assurance were unconditionally given by the then BCCI President Sourav Ganguly that BCCI would unconditionally fulfil its obligation.

“Should BCCI fail to deliver on its commitments it is up to the ICC to ensure BCCI meets its obligations. Failure to do so should mean cancellation of the World Cup and claiming damages from BCCI.”

The Indian government did not give the team clearance to travel to Pakistan for the Asia Cup, which was held this month. Instead, all India’s matches were played in Sri Lanka.

The next edition of the Champions Trophy, in 2025, is due to be held in Pakistan, raising the question of whether India will agree to play in the country.

Relations between India and Pakistan have been torrid since the Mumbai attacks in November 2008, which were carried out by a militant organisation from Pakistan. In 2014, the Pakistan Cricket Board signed an agreement to play six series with India from 2015 to 2023 - but none of these series took place.

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