Australian cricketers to choose between ‘high risk’ India, Pakistan

February 23rd, 2008 - 11:03 pm ICT by admin  

Sydney, Feb 23 (IANS) Australian cricketers could well have to choose between India and Pakistan to play cricket in April even as the foreign affairs department of the country have termed both the nations as ‘high risk’. Australia have a scheduled Test and One-Day International (ODI) tour pf Pakistan and almost at the same time the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL), in which some of the well-known Australian players are signed to play, will take place in India.

The latest travel warnings for Pakistan highlight the risk of “a very high threat of terrorist attack, sectarian violence” and “credible reports indicating terrorists are in the advanced stage of planning attacks” as Cricket Australia (CA) prepares for its next government briefing about travelling to the strife-torn nation, the Sydney Morning Herald reported in its Sunday’s edition posted on its website.

The paper wrote: “The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) report for Pakistan says, ‘We strongly advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Pakistan at this time due to the very high threat of terrorist attack, sectarian violence and the unpredictable security situation. We continue to receive a stream of credible reports indicating terrorists are in the advanced stages of planning attacks. These could target Western or Australian interests and individuals and places frequented by foreigners.’”

It further said: “They could occur at any time. Attacks may be launched anywhere in Pakistan, including major cities. Recent credible information indicates terrorists are planning attacks against targets in Karachi. Consulates, including the Australian Consulate, may be targeted, as well as major international hotels. Recent credible reporting indicates potential terrorist threats against Western hotels in Islamabad and Islamabad supermarkets frequented by Western diplomats.”

According to the paper, travelling to India was no less risky.

“We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in India because of the high risk of terrorist activity by militant groups. Recent credible information indicates that Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata may be the targets of terrorist attacks and, more specifically, that terrorists are planning to conduct suicide attacks in Mumbai or New Delhi,” it quoted DFAT as saying.

CA spokesman Peter Young said DFAT’s advice would be crucial in a final decision on Pakistan.

“There will be a visit to Canberra for a government briefing in early March. It’ll involve CA and the players’ association. We will talk to the department and take a briefing from them. We’ll be keen to know what various government agencies are advising,” he said.

“We’ll get the most detailed inside information before we sit down with the players and the players’ association to make the next step.”

Asked if it was right to assume the tour would be cancelled, Young replied: “No, no, no. We are approaching it with an open mind.”

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