The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has urged the International Cricket Council (ICC) to guarantee visas for its players and officials for the 2021 T20 World Cup scheduled to be held in India.
PCB CEO Wasim Khan stated that the responsibility lay on the apex cricket body to assure visas for Pakistan's touring party by January 2021 for the competition set to commence in October.
Diplomatic tensions between India and Pakistan have negatively affected cricketing ties amongst the two nations but the PCB wants the ICC to directly deal with the matter pertaining to travelling for its players and support staff.
"This is an ICC matter. We have discussed our concerns. There is a 'Host Agreement' that states very clearly that host nation [India in this case] will have to provide visas and accommodation for teams that are due to participate in T20 World Cup and Pakistan is one of them," Khan told PTI [Press Trust of India] in an exclusive interview.
"We have sought assurances from the ICC that our players will receive visas and ICC is now taking this up with the BCCI because that directive and confirmation will clearly need to come from their government."
The previous World T20 encounter between India and Pakistan in 2016 was shrouded in controversy with the venue of the high-voltage match changed at the last minute due to security concerns. The game was shifted from Dharamsala to Kolkata upon the recommendation of the security delegation.
Reflecting on the current scenario, Khan claimed the PCB had fixed a deadline for the arrangement of the visas to remove any possible doubts about not playing in the global T20 event.
"We have asked for a deadline till December-January, which we believe is the right thing. We expect a response from the ICC on whether our players and officials will receive visas to participate in the tournament."
"If it [visas] isn't [there], then like any nation would expect, we would also expect ICC to take that up directly with India and the Indian government through the BCCI to resolve this matter."
Moreover, Khan emphatically denied the likelihood of an Indo-Pak bilateral series in the 'foreseeable future' considering the existing fragile political climate.
Sounding pragmatic, Khan felt the Future Tours Programme (FTP) starting in 2023 could also not feature an India-Pakistan series unless the BCCI adopts a lenient stance.
"I think we have to be realistic about India and Pakistan bilateral series... BCCI needs to get permission before they can play Pakistan in any bilateral series, home, away or even on neutral venues," he said.
"I think on both sides, there is plenty of cricket to be played against other countries, but sadly for fans and players in both countries, it does not look like that India and Pakistan will be playing bilateral series in foreseeable future.
"So there is no current planning that we can factor into the next FTP (2023-31) unless circumstances and viewpoint changes of the Indian government," Khan added.