Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) late on Sunday night (February 17) issued a statement in response to IMG-Reliance stepping away from production duties of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) few hours after TV broadcaster D-Sport suspended coverage. The actions come in the aftermath of the Pulwama terrorist attack that claimed the lives of at least 40 CRPF soldiers in the South Kashmir region.
“We have been informed by IMG Reliance that they will be unable to partner with us for the remaining HBL PSL 2019 and PCB has reserved all its rights. The PCB always had a contingency plan in place, and we are confident we will be in a position to announce the new partner on Monday after the completion of the formalities,” said PCB’s Managing Director Wasim Khan in the statement.
Wasim added: “The PCB has also noted the recent turn of events and expresses its extreme disappointment as we have always believed and emphasised that sports and politics should be kept separate. History tells us that sports, particularly cricket, have always played a key role in building bridges between people and countries.”
“Unfortunately, denying India cricket fans the right to follow HBL PSL by blocking all digital coverage as well as covering or removing portrait of former Pakistan cricket captain and Prime Minister Imran Khan and other legendary cricketers from one of the most historic cricket clubs and venues are highly regrettable actions.”
“The PCB intends to take up these incidents with the BCCI and the ICC at the upcoming ICC committee meeting in Dubai later this month.”
Following the attack, the prestigious Cricket Club of India (CCI) on Saturday covered a portrait of former Pakistan cricketer, World Cup winner and now Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The CCI, an affiliated unit of BCCI, is home to the iconic Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai, which has hosted many Test matches. The entire CCI premises, including its restaurant, adorn portraits of the sport’s greats across eras and from all nations. Imran’s portrait is one of them as he led Pakistan to 1992 World Cup victory.
CCI President Premal Udani told news agency PTI, “See, CCI is a sports-club and we have photographs of past and present cricketers from all countries. We wanted to show, in our way – displeasure – on whatever is happening right now. It is mark of protest. We have covered it as of now but can’t say right now if we would take it down.”
On Sunday, Punjab Cricket Association’s Mohali Stadium too removed photos of former Pakistan legends. “As a humble step, the PCA has decided to show its solidarity with the families of martyrs of the Pulwama attack. There is so much anger in the nation against the heinous attack and PCA is no different in this,” said PCA treasurer Ajay Tyagi to PTI.
Tyagi said among the Pakistani cricketers whose photographs which have been removed from the PCA include that of Imran, Shahid Afridi, Javed Miandad and Wasim Akram.
In the three days since the attack – termed as the deadliest in three decades in J&K- many sportspersons and cricketers have condemned the act. Some sportspersons have stepped forward and made a contribution towards the families of the soldiers killed.
Pakistan-based terror organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad has claimed responsibility for it.