Zaka Ashraf, the Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), has conveyed significant concerns and heightened apprehension regarding the protracted delays in the issuance of visas to Pakistani cricket enthusiasts and journalists intending to attend the ICC World Cup in India. This enduring issue, which has been a subject of concern in Pakistan for an extended duration, has now been formally communicated to the International Cricket Council (ICC), marking the PCB’s official statement on the matter within the ongoing tournament’s context.
Pakistan has already partaken in one match at the World Cup, facing off against the Netherlands in Hyderabad. Their impending encounter against Sri Lanka, slated for Tuesday at the same venue, remains uncertain. Of particular significance is the highly anticipated encounter between Pakistan and India in Ahmedabad on October 14, which, based on current indications, may witness a conspicuous absence of Pakistani presence in the stadium and media facilities, continuing the trend observed thus far.
In response to this situation, Zaka Ashraf has held discussions with Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary, Syrus Sajjad Qazi, respectfully requesting his engagement with India’s Ministry of Home Affairs to address this pressing matter. Through an official statement, the PCB has expressed profound disappointment regarding the persistent ambiguity surrounding the issuance of Indian visas to Pakistani journalists and fans aspiring to cover Pakistan’s engagements in the ICC World Cup 2023. Additionally, the PCB has reaffirmed the responsibilities vested in both the ICC and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Concurrently, the PCB has taken note of security-related concerns that have surfaced in the Indian media and has urged the relevant government authorities to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the safety and security arrangements for the Pakistan squad, underscoring the paramount importance of their well-being.
The ICC had previously affirmed its commitment to collaborating closely with the BCCI to facilitate visas for up to 60 accredited journalists from Pakistan tasked with covering the tournament. Unfortunately, there remains a lack of clarity regarding the potential number of Pakistani fans who will ultimately gain access across the border.
Ehsan Mani, the former Chairman of the PCB and a past ICC President, has vigorously criticized both the ICC and the BCCI in response to this situation.