Experts assess security in troubled Karachi for England cricket tour

Published: Tuesday, June 28, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi:Two English experts began a mission to assess security in Pakistan ahead of England's cricket tour of the country, officials said.

Pakistani officials Tuesday briefed Andy Allman and Douglas Dick, representing private firm Oliver Security, on the situation in the troubled port city of Karachi, one of the three Test venues for the winter series.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials have said the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had reservations over playing a Test in Karachi, which has witnessed a bloody wave of sectarian attacks in recent weeks.

The England team's provisional schedule from October 25 until December 22 includes three Tests in Karachi, Faisalabad and Lahore.

It also includes One-day games in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Karachi but the northwestern border city of Peshawar has been left out due to its close proximity to Afghanistan.

"You can't hide the environment of a city in the computer age but we have answered their questions over security arrangements and they will give their analysis to the ECB," said Ghulam Mohammad, home secretary of Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital.

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, foreign teams like Australia and the West Indies have refused to play in Pakistan over security fears.

Karachi has been rejected as a Test venue by South Africa and India since a bomb blast outside the New Zealand's team hotel in May 2002 killed 14 people including 11 French naval engineers.

England won a Test in Karachi on their last trip in 2000.

The English security team will now visit other venues in Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan and Rawalpindi before submitting their report to the ECB.

A two-member ECB delegation will then tour Pakistan from July 3 to finalise the tour programme.

The tour will be England's first since 2000 when Naseer Hussain's team won their first series in Pakistan for 39 years.

The PCB last week said that its English counterpart had not made any specific demands over venues and a Test in Karachi remains on the agenda.

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