Aussies fears about touring Pak are genuine: Imran
Published: Thursday, August 8, 2002, 20:40 [IST]
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Karachi: Former Pakistan captain turned politician Imran Khan said on Thursday Australian fears about touring Pakistan were genuine, but that cricket authorities in both countries should work towards resolving the issue for the sake of the game. "Australian fears about touring Pakistan are genuine as the international media has sensationalised events in Pakistan, which can occur anywhere. But I think both (cricket) Boards should resolve the matter amicably ... for the sake of cricket," Khan, who now heads the Movement for Justice political party, said. The fate of Australia's Test tour to Pakistan in October hangs in the balance amid security fears, with leading Australian players refusing to play in a three-match series between October 1 and 24 which marks the 50th anniversary of Pakistan's entry into international Test cricket. "My friends call me from abroad and ask about my welfare because the picture they get is very dangerous and fearful. So I realise the Australians are not making lame excuses," Khan said. "I think the series would be most interesting as Pakistan is the only team that can match Australia on talent, although Australia has the edge on temperament." Pakistan has already shifted its home tri-series, involving Australia and Kenya and to be played between August 29 and September 7, to Nairobi, Kenya.Security fears have escalated with a grenade attack against a church in Islamabad in March, two bomb blasts in the southern port city of Karachi in May and June, and this week's attack on a Christian school in Muree, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) northeast of the capital. "The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) must explain the over-hype and convince the Australians to tour, and I see a fifty-fifty chance of the tour getting the green signal," Khan said. "Once both Boards decide to go ahead with the tour, venues with less risks should stage the matches. And, of course, the Pakistan president has assured full security," he said. President Pervez Musharraf talked to Australian Prime Minister John Howard by telephone last week and urged him to send his team. Howard assured full cooperation, but said the final decision rested with the Australian Cricket Board (ACB). PCB chairman Lieutenant General Tauqir Zia said last week said he has 80 percent hopeful that the tour would go ahead.