NZ abandoned tour after alert from ‘Five Eyes’ alliance: PCB CEO

PCB contacted Bangladesh, Sri Lanka for bilateral series. (Source: Dawn)

LAHORE: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief executive officer Wasim Khan on Sunday revealed that the New Zealand tour of Pakistan was abandoned after the visitor’s government received an alert from the “Five Eyes” intelligence group about a “direct and imminent” threat.

Talking to journalists, Wasim Khan asserted that the Black Caps had set a “very wrong example” by unilaterally ending the tour. “The last 48 hours had been very difficult for Pakistan cricket,” he said, adding he wanted to bring some facts to light.

According to Wasim Kham, on Friday morning at 3am, he received a call from ESI head of security Reg Dickinson, who said that “a report had landed on the New Zealand government’s desk through their government security agencies stating that there was a threat on the New Zealand team “.

He further said he then arrived in Lahore and met Dickinson to seek more clarification. “He stated that information had emanated from that circle (Five Eyes) and reached the deputy prime minister’s office of New Zealand, and that it was serious,” he added.

The PCB CEO said New Zealand refused to provide any details or inform the Pakistani security agencies about the threat. “When we contacted our security agencies, they clarified that there was no security threat to the visiting team,” he added.

He regretted the Kiwis’ decision, saying, “You have to trust the security agencies of the country that you are touring,” adding, “While harming the relations between the two boards, the decision will have far-reaching consequences.”

“Our players spent the most difficult 14 days in quarantine in New Zealand and travelled there despite the Christchurch mosque attack,” he pointed out.  He revealed that the PCB had contacted the Bangladesh and Sri Lankan cricket boards in the last 24 hours, offering them to arrive in Pakistan to play a bilateral series.

While both boards were willing to undertake the visit, Khan said, it was not possible to accomplish due to “a lack of time and logistical issues”. Khan emphasised that reputation was a bigger concern for Pakistan than financial losses.

On Friday, the New Zealand team had unilaterally postponed the series with Pakistan minutes before the first match was scheduled to start at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium — a move that had shocked fans and officials.

The Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

In a new statement, New Zealand Cricket Chief Executive David White said he had “no option” but to abandon the Pakistan tour after receiving advice from the New Zealand government of a “specific, credible threat”.

He added that “while the general tenor of the threat was immediately shared with the PCB, specific details could not, and will not, be disclosed – privately or publicly.”

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