Sydney: Australian Prime Minister John Howard said on Monday that Pakistan leader Pervez Musharraf had personally guaranteed the safety of Australia's cricketers during a planned tour to Pakistan, but the pledge was not enough to prevent the trip being cancelled.
Howard said he had spoken at length with President Pervez Musharraf two weeks before the Australian Cricket Board announced on Friday that it was cancelling the three- match Test series in October due to fears for the team's security. "The President rang me about two and a half weeks ago, we had a conversation for about half an hour," Howard said on a radio channel in Cairns. "He asked me to tell the board that the players would be safe. He said he would guarantee their security." Howard, a self-avowed cricket fanatic, said he passed the information on to the Australian Cricket Board but told Musharraf it was a matter for the ACB to decide. "I don't think they had any alternative, particularly in light of recent events, but it is a great shame," Howard said, referring to a spate of deadly attacks on Westerners and non-Muslims by Islamic militants in Pakistan.
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