Repercussions of Absolutely Not: Closure of International Sports in Pakistan

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The New Zealand (NZ) cricket team arrived in Pakistan in September after 18 years to play a cricket series containing 3 one-day internationals (ODIs) in Rawalpindi and Five T-20 matches in Lahore.  Unfortunately, the NZ team refused to play the series due to security threats on September 19, 2021, just as the first ODI was due to start in Rawalpindi.

Initially, it was said that the first ODI between Pakistan and New Zealand was delayed due to reports that the players may have been instructed to stay at the hotel due to Corona. Later it was reported in the media by quoting the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) that the New Zealand Cricket Board suddenly informed that they have received a security alert, so it has been decided to postpone the series unilaterally.

Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry while speaking to Eat News said, “This incident was the repercussion of ‘Absolutely Not’. He was refereeing the Pakistani Premier’s Statement, which gave during an interview with International News Agency while replying to the question, whether Pakistan shares its airbases with USA against Afghanistan? Mr. Chaudhary said, “One has to pay the price of taking the stand of “Absolutely Not”. Pakistan Television (PTV) lost PKR 300 million due to postponement of New Zealand and England series”.

During a media briefing Information Minister Fawad Ch claimed that neighboring country India is behind this conspiracy. “We have irrefutable evidence of involvement of India in this episode. Fake posts threatening the New Zealand cricket team were generated from India; an email ID was created in the name of Hamza Afridi, 15 minutes later from the creation ID, an email was generated from the same ID. The email was sent from India with a Virtual Private Network (VPN). The VPN’s location was in Singapore so that India’s location could not be discovered. The device used to threaten New Zealand cricket was from India, Om Prakash Mishra used the device from Mumbai”, Info minister said.

Fawad Chaudhery added “the device from which the email was sent contained 13 e-mail IDs, all e-mails were made in the name of Indian film industry and dramas, but this time deliberately e-mail ID is generated in the name of Hamza Afridi”.

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The Federal Minister said that on August 19, a fake Facebook post in the name of Ehsan ullah Ehsan threatened to target the New Zealand team. The post said that the New Zealand team should not go to Pakistan as Da’ish (ISIS) can target them”.

On August 24, a threatening email was sent to the wife of Kiwi cricketer Martin Guptill, threatening that he (Martin Guptill) would be killed in Pakistan. This email account was created on August 24 at 1:05 pm, emailed from this account at 11:00 am, so far only one email has been sent, and we have sought the assistance of Interpol in this matter”. Pakistan is facing hybrid war and fifth generation war, New Zealand government should share with us the threat they received. Threats were made in India to cancel the visit to New Zealand, IDs were created in the names of Tehreek-e-Labeek (TLP), Ehsanullah Ehsan and Hamza Afridi.

Renowned Defense analyst Dr. Maria Sultan while speaking to Eat News said, “Keeping in view the ‘fall of Kabul on August 15’ the regional circumstances have influence on Pakistan security situation. Security threats have increased in Pakistan as in the near past we have also witnessed some terrorist activities in different parts of the country.  No doubt, in these incidents local investigation agencies find the footprints of Indian involvement. However, security forces in Pakistan have full capability to curb the militancy and terrorism in the country.

The NZ team did not share the details of the threat and suspended the games one-sidedly; apparently it seems that there are some political reasons behind this chapter.”

“I am afraid political pressure will increase on Pakistan by the international community. It was expected that if Pakistan did not share its soil or airspace with the CIA to launch attacks against Afghanistan, things would get adverse. Pakistan believes that this decision (giving airbases to the USA) will cause more uncertainty in the region, so definitely Pakistan has to ‘face the music’ and pressure will increase in upcoming days”, Dr. Maria was talking to Eat News.

After a negative response from the NZ cricket team, The English Cricket Board also canceled their tour to Pakistan. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that he has communicated to the British Foreign Secretary to reconsider the cricket decision. Mr. Qureshi was disappointed with the decision of the England Cricket Board. While Talking to Pakistani media in London, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that there was concern in the Pakistani community over the Covid-19 British red list and cricket, disappointed with the decision of the England Cricket Board, that the UK should revisit its judgment.  The British Foreign Secretary told his Pakistani counterpart that the decision was not made by the government but taken by the English Cricket Board.

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Speaking at a press conference in Islamabad, Federal Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said, “We have not received any threat. New Zealand has decided to end the tour unilaterally. We offered to commence the series without spectators but they did not agree.”

The Interior Minister said the tour of the New Zealand cricket team was ended under a conspiracy. “The hands wearing gloves have conspired” , the Interior Minister used a metaphor to explain the situation.  “New Zealand had sent a security team four months before the event; said team had also given security clearance” Mr. Shaikh Rashid added.

The New Zealand cricket team has announced the abrupt end of its tour of Pakistan, citing security concerns, following which the series between the two teams has been postponed.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said it wanted to continue the tour as scheduled, but New Zealand’s sudden unilateral decision has upset cricket fans.

Prime Minister Imran Khan himself spoke to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on the issue and explained to her that Pakistani intelligence agencies are among the best in the world and in his opinion there is no threat to the New Zealand team. However, the Prime Minister of New Zealand requested that the visit be postponed in view of the precautionary policy.

Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board Rameez Raja has expressed frustration over New Zealand’s cancellation of the series.

While talking with Eat News, Rameez Raja said, “I am very saddened with the decision of New Zealand cricket. I am very sorry for the fans and the players.” He said that New Zealand cricket had made a unilateral decision to return and it was unacceptable not to share anything in this regard. The chairman of the PCB said that he would see New Zealand in the International Cricket Council (ICC). “Pakistani cricket players do not lose heart, they should take revenge through their best performance. Pakistan cricket team should convert this challenge into opportunity, if they (Cricket team) perform well, there is a great chance that Pakistan will win the T-20 world cup in October” Ramiz Raja added.

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It is worthy to share that after 18 years of time span, the New Zealand team came to Pakistan to play the series and before the arrival of the team, and the New Zealand security team had also expressed satisfaction over the arrangements.

Sports experts say there are different statements and theories about the cancellation of the New Zealand and England cricket series, which was scheduled in Pakistan, but above all it will cause a huge loss in the reputation of Pakistan. Same time, it will work as a catalyst for the closure of international cricket and other sports in the country.

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Muhammad Farhan Niazi is a correspondent for Eat News in Pakistan and is an experienced senior producer with a demonstrated history of working in the media production industry. Skilled in feature and news writing, non-linear editing, radio, multimedia journalism, Online journalism, film production, and sound. Strong media and communication professional graduated from University of Peshawar.


Eat News is a Taiwanese digital media, analyzes current events and issues through column articles, videos, visual aid, and exclusive interviews.
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