New Delhi: After the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) lodged a complaint with the International Cricket Council (ICC) over the delay in India granting visas to its players, the host country issued visas to the cricket team from across the border.
“Visas have been issued to the Pakistan team,” an ICC spokesperson told Reuters without sharing any further details.
PCB spokesperson Umar Farooq also confirmed to Reuters that players and support staff have been asked to collect their passports from the Indian high commission in Islamabad.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had written to the International Cricket Council (ICC), raising concerns over the delay in getting visas for its team members who will play in the upcoming World Cup hosted by India.
According to PCB’s schedule, the team was supposed to travel to Hyderabad from Dubai on Wednesday, September 27, to play a warm-up match with New Zeland on September 29 in Hyderabad, before the actual tournament begins on October 5. With just two days left before their departure, the team members were still waiting to get their visas.
“Since the last week PCB is being informed that the visas will be received within 24 hours, but still awaiting and it has been indicated that the Indian home ministry has not granted NOC,” a PCB spokesperson had told PTI on Monday, September 25.
“There has been an extraordinary delay in getting clearance and securing Indian visas for the Pakistan team for the ICC World Cup,” PCB spokesperson Umar Farooq had said in a statement, according to ESPNCricinfo. “We have written to ICC raising our concerns about inequitable treatment towards Pakistan and reminding them of these obligations towards the World Cup.”
Visa applications from Pakistan require clearances from India’s home, external affairs, and sports ministries. India’s high commission in Islamabad was still awaiting clearance from the authorities to issue visas to the Pakistani contingent. The entire schedule drawn up by the PCB earlier for its team and support staff had to be reworked.
In fact, the team and its support staff were supposed to be in Dubai for a two-day team bonding session before flying from there to Hyderabad on Wednesday, September 27 morning. However, the Dubai team-bonding session had to be cancelled, and it was decided that the team would directly fly out of Lahore on Wednesday morning to reach Hyderabad subject to visa clearance.
“It’s a matter of disappointment that the Pakistan team has to go through this uncertainty ahead of the major tournament. We have been reminding [the organisers] about their obligations from the last three years and it has all come down to the last two days with our first warm game scheduled on September 29. We were forced to cancel our original plan to organise team-building exercises in Dubai on the way to India. We have had to rework our plan and book new flights, but these plans are subject to issuance of visas,” the PCB had told ICC.
The Pakistan cricket team last visited India in 2016 for the T20 World Cup. The arch-rivals only play with each other in the Asia Cup and ICC tournaments given the hostile relations between the two countries.
“If the players are having to experience delays, one can only wonder what will happen to visa applications of fans and journalists,” a PCB source had said.
Note: This copy has been updated with the news of India granting visas to Pakistan players after it was published.