Cricket: Bangladesh court orders Pakistan tour delay

The Bangladesh high court on Thursday ordered the national team's upcoming tour of Pakistan to be postponed for at least four weeks due to fears about militants targeting foreign cricket sides.

Bangladesh were set to play a 50-over game and a Twenty20 fixture on April 29 and 30 in Lahore, the first international matches in the troubled country since a deadly strike on the touring Sri Lanka team three years ago.

Additional Attorney General M.K. Rahman told AFP that the high court in Dhaka had ordered Bangladesh's cricket authorities to explain why the tour was scheduled to go ahead despite concerns over the team's safety.

"It asked the cricket board to explain in the next four weeks. During the four weeks, the court imposed an injunction on the cricket team's tour to Pakistan," he said.

Bangladesh would be the first team to visit Pakistan since the militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus during the Lahore Test in 2009, when eight people died and seven visiting players and an assistant coach were injured.

The high court gave the order following a petition by a lawyer and a university teacher.

"We told the court that the Pakistan tour would risk the lives of our cricketers," Hassan Azim, lawyer for the two petitioners, told AFP.

"Pakistan is not a safe place for an international sports event. No other international teams are travelling to Pakistan. Why should Bangladesh go? The decision was imposed on the cricketers."

Pakistani political leaders, players and fans had welcomed the planned tour, but concern over the visit grew in Bangladesh after it was announced on Sunday.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) voiced their fury at the court's move, which it described in a statement as "extremely disturbing".

"It is astonishing to note that a matter lacking any legal issue has been dragged in the court by petitioners who appear to have vested interest and want to jeopardise Pakistan-Bangladesh cricketing relations," it said.

Anti-Pakistan feelings still run strong in Bangladesh, which was part of Pakistan until 1971 when it won independence in a bloody nine-month war in which Dhaka says an estimated three million people lost their lives.

The global players' association on Thursday accused Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Mustafa Kamal of agreeing to the tour in return for Pakistan nominating him as vice president of the International Cricket Council.

"What has resulted since has been a series of actions and comments that rather than reassure everyone of the safety of such a tour, only have created heightened apprehensions," the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations said.

It added there had been "a series of indecisive and contradictory comments, particularly coming from... Kamal."

BCB spokesman Jalal Yunus told AFP that they would decide their next step after seeing the full court ruling.

Bangladesh's coach Stuart Law, from Australia, earlier this week expressed fears about the team's schedule and declined to confirm if he would go on the tour.

Foreign sides have shunned Pakistan since the 2009 attacks, forcing them to play their home series on neutral venues, mostly in the United Arab Emirates.


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