POLITICS

Pakistan cricket team gets last-minute visa approval for World Cup 2023 in India

With less than 48 hours before their scheduled departure to Hyderabad for the upcoming World Cup, the Pakistan cricket team finally obtained their Indian visas late on Monday evening. This development came after the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) sent a strongly-worded letter to the International Cricket Council (ICC) expressing their concerns about the prolonged delay in obtaining Indian visas for the World Cup, set to commence on October 5 in Ahmedabad.

The team, led by captain Babar Azam, will now leave Lahore for Dubai early on Wednesday morning, followed by a flight to Hyderabad in the afternoon. Their first practice match against New Zealand is slated for Friday.

Originally, Pakistan had planned a two-day training camp in Dubai on Monday and Tuesday before their Hyderabad journey. However, due to the visa delay, the PCB had to cancel the camp and reschedule the flights for Wednesday. Frustrated by the delay, the PCB reached out to the ICC about the situation, and it was around 8 PM IST that the Indian High Commission granted the visas for the Pakistani team.

In their letter to the ICC, the PCB stated, “There has been an extraordinary delay in getting clearance and securing Indian visas for the Pakistan team for the ICC World Cup. We have written to the ICC raising our concerns about inequitable treatment towards Pakistan and reminding them of their obligations towards the World Cup.” The PCB further expressed disappointment over the uncertainty the team had to endure just days before the major tournament.

PCB spokesperson Umar Farooq outlined the visa application process: “We sent the first batch of passport details for the Indian visa application on August 18 to the ICC. The ICC sent the visa invitation letter on August 28. After the team’s return from the Asia Cup on September 15, we submitted the visa applications, along with passports, at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad on September 19.”

This visa issue is the latest chapter in Pakistan’s journey to the World Cup. Earlier, the PCB had considered withdrawing from the tournament in India after the BCCI declined to participate in the Asia Cup held in Pakistan. The Pakistan team eventually traveled to Sri Lanka for the Asia Cup after receiving clearance from their Foreign Ministry.

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