The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

PCB chief acknowledges foreign teams still have doubts over security in Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Zaka Ashraf acknowledged on Thursday that foreign teams are still reluctant to tour Pakistan due to security fears after Bangladesh twice postponed its scheduled tours to Pakistan last year.

"I've talked to three, four presidents of the cricket boards, but they are reluctant when they hear the name of Pakistan especially after what Bangladesh did last year," Ashraf told reporters.

The PCB chief returned home on Thursday after attending the two-day board meeting of the International Cricket Council in Dubai where he had several meetings with members.

Bangladesh twice backed out of its commitment last year and did not send its team for a short tour to Pakistan which could have revived international cricket in the country.

No major test playing nation has toured Pakistan since gunmen attacked on the Sri Lanka team convoy at Lahore in 2009, killing six police officials and injuring several touring players.

The security apprehensions of foreign teams have forced the PCB to organize its home series at a neutral venue — mainly in the United Arab Emirates for the last four years.

Ashraf said he had talked to one ICC member country about the possibility of hosting either a women's team or the under-19 team from that nation for an international competition in Pakistan.

"They have asked us to send the proposal and it might help in developing the confidence level of foreign players," he said.

The PCB also requested the ICC to award Pakistan a 50-over World Cup qualifier in 2018.

"We have requested them that Pakistan should be given an opportunity to host the event," Ashraf said. "We also told them that when the time comes, the ICC could assess the security situation in Pakistan and take decision accordingly."

On Wednesday, former Pakistan captain Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif both lost their appeals against lengthy bans at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne and Ashraf said they have to serve their punishment.

CAS said Butt lost his appeal against a 10-year ban while Asif failed to overturn a seven-year suspension. The players must serve five years of their sanctions, with the remaining years deferred by the ICC.

"After their bans end, we will include them in first class domestic cricket and see how they perform," Ashraf said.

The PCB chief said that with ICC's stringent anti-corruption measures in place around the world, it is now difficult for players to get involved in corruption.

"The whole world is a global village now and the notes on anti-corruption are being exchanged everywhere in the world," he said. "I think for any player it will be difficult to do match-fixing and if someone gets involved in it, his future will be destroyed."

Pakistan also banned international umpire Nadeem Ghauri last week over four years for corruption charges after an Indian television channel did a sting operation last year.

Ghauri has criticized the PCB for caving in to pressure from the ICC, but Ashraf dismissed that notion.

"There was no pressure on me because I believe in justice and truth," Ashraf said. "He (Ghauri) should realize his mistake and should not do such a thing in future."

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