Pakistan bars its cricketers from IPL (Lead)

February 2nd, 2009 - 8:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi/New Delhi, Feb 2 (IANS) In a complete flip-flop, Pakistan’s foreign ministry Monday refused to clear the country’s national cricketers for the second season of the Indian Premier League (IPL).The decision comes just days after Pakistan’s sports ministry cleared the cricketers’ participation in the cash-rich IPL.

Five Pakistani cricketers were scheduled to leave for India later this week to attend the Feb 6 IPL players’ auction but were instructed by the authorities to cancel the trip because of prevailing tensions between the two countries following the Nov 26-29 Mumbai terror attacks.

Pakistani cricketers Danish Kaneria, Yasir Hameed, Yasir Arafat, Asim Kamal and Mohammad Hafeez were included in the IPL’s list for the auction before the second season.

Reacting to Pakistan government’s move, IPL commissioner Lalit Modi told reporters in New Delhi that all the five players have been withdrawn from the auction.

“The Pakistan government took this decision along with the Pakistan Cricket Board. So we have decided to withdraw all the five players from the auction in Goa,” Modi said.

Pakistan Sports Minister Pir Aftab Jilani said that the foreign ministry has refused to clear their Indian visit.

“We have been informed by the foreign ministry that the situation is not conducive for Pakistan cricketers to travel to India,” Jilani said in an interview.

“The sports ministry had given the NOC to the cricketers, but the final decision was up to the higher authorities,” he said. “Ever since the Mumbai attacks, the situation has got tense and even Pakistani artists are facing problems in India,” he added.

Jilani last week gave clearance to the players to participate in the IPL, saying that the ministry has no objection because it was a private visit. He had made it clear that their security would be their own and the IPL’s responsibility.

Apart from the five cricketers selected for the IPL auction, several leading Pakistani cricketers are already associated with the Twenty20 league. They include Shoaib Akhtar, Pakistan captain Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Umar Gul and Sohail Tanvir.

Pakistan’s decision to block its players’ participation in the IPL came after it refused to allow its hockey and squash teams to tour India. It was India’s decision to block its cricket team’s tour of Pakistan last December that created the platform for suspension of bilateral sporting ties between the two neighbours.

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