LAHORE: With just a few days left for the World Cup, the Pakistan Cricket Board on Monday raised concerns about “inordinate delay” in the issuance of Indian visas for the national team with the International Cricket Council (ICC).
“We have written to ICC raising our concerns about inequitable treatment towards Pakistan and reminding them of these obligations towards the World Cup,” PCB spokesperson Umar Farooq told Dawn.com.
“It’s a matter of disappointment that the Pakistan team has to go through the uncertainty ahead of the major tournament.”
Farooq said the board had been reminding the ICC about obligations for the last three years but it had all come down to the last two days with the national team’s first warm game scheduled on September 29.
“We were forced to cancel our original plan to organise team-building exercises in Dubai on the way to India. We have had to rework our plan and book new flights, but these plans are subject issuance of visas,” the spokesperson added.
According to ESPNcricinfo, the application for visas was reportedly made over a week ago. However, Pakistan are yet to get their visas less than 48 hours before flying out to India.
Due to visa delays, the team has already cancelled its pre-World Cup team bonding event in Dubai. It has also emerged that Pakistan are the only participating team — of the nine teams travelling to India for the event — yet to receive visas.
The team is due to travel to Dubai from Lahore on Sept 27 before flying to Hyderabad, India, to play two warm-up matches — against New Zealand on Sept 29 and Australia on Oct 3.
Earlier, the team was scheduled to leave for Dubai on Sept 25 and stay there for two days. Pakistan will play their first match against the Netherlands on Oct 6. Fans and journalists who intended to attend the tournament had to apply for visas through the Indian High Commission’s website.
The portal, however, remained inaccessible, leaving the aspirants dismayed. Expressing concerns over visa hiccups, a Lahore-based journalist said he and his fellow sports reporters had to get the online forms filled through agents and paid them for a simple process.
Owing to issues with the accessibility of the high commission’s website, visa seekers said they had been advised to use a VPN while accessing the site.
Earlier, the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Sports Journalists Association issued a statement, saying that even media persons accredited with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the national governing body of cricket in India, and the ICC were facing difficulties.
The association appealed to the Indian High Commission to accept hand-filled visa applications if the issue persisted. The media persons should be facilitated as limited time was left at the start of the mega event, the statement added.