'Terrorists wouldn't dare hurt cricketers'

Published: Monday, October 13, 2008, 9:00 [IST]
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Sydney: International cricketers are safe from terror attacks in troubled Pakistan because the game is so well loved in the country, player-turned-politician Imran Khan told Australian media.

Australia have not toured Pakistan for a decade and abandoned a visit earlier this year because of security concerns in the wake of the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

In August, Australia also pulled out of the Champions Trophy in Pakistan which has now been postponed.

Speaking to Australian television, Khan said that while he understood the Australians' decision, those who wanted to destabilise Pakistan would not risk alienating their support base by attacking cricketers.

"I also know that cricketers would never be under any threat from terrorists," he said in an interview to be screened late Monday by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"Terrorists rely on support from the masses because that's where they get their recruits, and cricket is a game which is so loved and there's such passion in Pakistan, that the terrorists know that if a cricket match is bombed, they've had it.

"The public will just turn against them."

Khan, a former Pakistan captain who led his team to the 1992 World Cup title, has been active in Pakistani politics since his retirement from the sport.

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