Pakistan’s Sports Minister, Ehsaan Mazari, has issued a stern warning to India, stating that if India decides not to participate in the Asia Cup hosted in Pakistan then they will retaliate by withdrawing from the 2023 World Cup to be held in India.
In an exclusive interview with The Indian Express, Mazari, who oversees the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), expressed his personal opinion on the matter. He emphasized that if India insists on playing their Asia Cup matches at a neutral venue, Pakistan will demand the same for their World Cup matches in India.
This statement comes in response to the formation of a high-profile committee by Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, tasked with evaluating Pakistan’s participation in the upcoming World Cup hosted by India.
While the schedule for the Asia Cup is yet to be announced, reports suggest that the event will be co-hosted by Pakistan and Sri Lanka. However, there are indications that India may play all their matches in Sri Lanka, a concept that Mazari opposes, asserting Pakistan’s right to host all matches on its soil.
He expressed confusion regarding India’s reluctance to play cricket in Pakistan and accused the Indian government of politicizing sports. Mazari highlighted instances of other Indian sports teams visiting Pakistan, such as a baseball contingent and a bridge team, underscoring the importance of resuming cricket tours between the two nations.
Addressing concerns about security, Mazari dismissed them as unfounded, citing the recent visits of the New Zealand and England cricket teams to Pakistan, where they received presidential-level security.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has urged Pakistan to honor its participation agreement for the World Cup, expressing confidence that Pakistan will be present in India for the prestigious tournament.