|Afghanistan are the first international side to tour Pakistan since the Lahore attack in March 2009 [GALLO/GETTY]|
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has decided against holding a match in a coming one-day series against Afghanistan at Abbottabad, the Pakistani town where Osama bin Laden was killed earlier this month.
The PCB said on Wednesday that Abbottabad would host the third match of the Pakistan A and Afghanistan series on May 29, but reversed its decision after chairman Ijaz Butt met with Interior Minister Rehman Malik.
Abbottabad, a quiet garrison town, became the focus of worldwide media attention after US forces killed al-Qaeda leader bin Laden in a late-night raid on May 2.
“It made no sense to anyone given the focus of the world media on the town and because of the security issues involved in it,” said Mian Azmat Hussain, a senior official in the Karachi City Cricket Association.
The PCB chief met with Malik to discuss security arrangements for the coming series.
“The itinerary of Afghanistan national team tour to Pakistan has been rescheduled. The new itinerary is (the) first match at Islamabad on May 25, second match at Rawalpindi on May 27 and third match on May 29 at Faisalabad,” the PCB said in a statement.
The PCB gave no reasons for the decision to drop Abbottabad as a venue but a PCB source told the Reuters news agency the decision was taken on the advice of the interior minister.
“They were some security issues and it was felt it would be better if Afghanistan played in Islamabad instead of Abbottabad,” the source said.
Afghanistan is the first foreign team to play an official match in Pakistan since militants attacked the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in March 2009.
Six Pakistani policemen and a van driver were killed and five Sri Lankan players wounded.
Also on Thursday, Butt appointed Misbah-ul-Haq to replace Shahid Afridi as one-day captain for a two-match series against Ireland this month.
Butt said Afridi will play as an ordinary member of the team despite leading Pakistan to a 3-2 one-day series win over the West Indies earlier this month.
The switch is likely to be seen as punishment for Afridi’s public criticism of coach Waqar Younis’ alleged interference in team selection.
“Misbah will lead Pakistan in the two matches against Ireland and Afridi will play as a member (of the team) only,” the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman told a news conference.
Ireland host Pakistan for two matches on May 28 and 30.