Pakistan Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad Photograph:( AFP )
'At a time when Pakistan is playing a vital role towards peace and security in the world; when Pakistan has very strong, reliable and robust forces to deal with terrorism, this is a planned conspiracy by some 'gloved hand' to end this tour,' said Ahmad
Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, who is Pakistan's interior minister, commented on the cancellation of Pakistan vs New Zealand cricket series as he said that security forces had received "no reports" of a threat against the NZ team that travelled to the South Asian nation.
After the series was cancelled, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad spoke to reporters in Urdu, which can be loosely translated in English as: "This is their prerogative. Our security forces - our police, our armed forces, our SSG (Special Service Group) - none of these organizations had any reports of a threat. Nor was any threat received."
"The security situation in our country is excellent. We can give a guarantee that there is no security issue here, no security threat. However, the New Zealand prime minister said, 'although there is no issue of a threat, but we have information that when the team goes outside, there can be an attack on it.' They have therefore cancelled their tour unilaterally," he said.
"At a time when Pakistan is playing a vital role towards peace and security in the world; when Pakistan has very strong, reliable and robust forces to deal with terrorism, this is a planned conspiracy by some 'gloved hand' to end this tour," Ahmad further added.
New Zealand abandoned the series citing a government "security alert" on the day when the first match of the tour was supposed to begin. The Kiwis were due to play Pakistan on Friday (September 17) in the first of three ODIs in Rawalpindi, before moving to Lahore for a five-match T20 series.
It is important to note here that international cricket in Pakistan was suspended in the aftermath of terror attacks against the Sri Lankan side in 2009, but has slowly revived over the past two years.
However, following an escalation in the New Zealand Government threat levels for Pakistan, officials decided to cancel the tour and mentioned that arrangements were being made for the team's departure.
New Zealand cricket did not comment on the details of the security threat nor the updated arrangements for the departing squad.
The Black Caps have abandoned the tour of Pakistan following a security alert from the New Zealand government.— ICC (@ICC) September 17, 2021
Weighing in on the security measures, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) released a statement: "Earlier today, the New Zealand cricket board informed us that they had been alerted to some security alert and have unilaterally decided to postpone the series. PCB and Govt of Pakistan made fool proof security arrangements for all visiting teams."
"We have assured the NZ cricket board of the same. The Prime Minister spoke personally to the Prime Minister of New Zealand and informed her that we have one of the best Intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team."
"The security officials with the NZ team have been satisfied with security arrangements made by the Govt of Pakistan throughout their stay here."
"PCB is willing to continue the scheduled matches. However, cricket lovers in Pakistan and around the world will be disappointed by this last minute withdrawal," the statement concluded.