Visa Delay for Pakistan’s Cricket Team in the 2023 World Cup: A Detailed Account
The 2023 Cricket World Cup is just around the corner, with cricket fans eagerly awaiting the opening match between England and New Zealand. However, as the 2023 Cricket World Cup draws near, controversy continues to plague it. One of the latest dramas unfolding revolves around Pakistan’s cricket team and the delay in obtaining their visas to travel to India. While the visas were eventually issued 48 hours before their scheduled departure, the matter escalated to involve the International Cricket Council (ICC), Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Let’s dive into the sequence of events that led to this visa delay.
The issue regarding Pakistan’s visas came to light last Friday. Initially, the plan was for the Pakistani players to fly to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for a team-building exercise and then proceed to India two days before their World Cup warm-up match against New Zealand in Hyderabad. However, with the visas still pending at the Indian High Commission, these plans had to be scrapped. What added to the frustration was that visas had been granted to all nine other participating teams except Pakistan, leading the PCB to express its displeasure at India and the BCCI’s perceived indifference. However, as reported by ESPNCricinfo, the PCB’s hands were also tied in this matter.
In the first week of August, India’s home ministry wrote to the BCCI, stating that “Security clearance of Ministry of Home Affairs is required for the event (World Cup) only if there are foreign participants from the PRC countries i.e., Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan, foreigners of Pakistani Origin, and Stateless persons.” Given the historical tensions between India and Pakistan and both teams’ reluctance to travel to each other’s nations, it was evident that obtaining security clearance would be a time-consuming process.
When did Pakistan apply for their visas?
Visa applications became available to all teams at the end of August. However, Pakistan faced a delay due to their participation in the Asia Cup. The Asia Cup had a unique format that required players to travel back and forth to Sri Lanka for league and Super Four matches. Pakistan had requested permission to submit their visa applications without their passports during this period, but their request was denied. Consequently, they had no choice but to wait until the entire squad returned home to submit their passports.
Finally, on September 19, both the visa applications and passports were submitted. However, in the following days, there was no official update, which raised concerns within the PCB. It wasn’t until Monday that the visa issuance process gained momentum, following the PCB’s official communication with the ICC, expressing their dissatisfaction with the perceived lack of responsiveness. Considering the circumstances, the fact that Pakistan received the green light for visa clearance within a week can be viewed as a relatively minor delay.
Could Pakistan’s late squad announcement have been a factor in the delay? It’s unlikely, as the visa applications had already been submitted by the time the squad was announced on September 22. The PCB was well aware of which players would be part of their World Cup lineup. Moreover, there were other teams that announced their squads much later, and they did not face similar delays.
The primary reasons behind this visa delay can be attributed to two main factors: the unique format of the Asia Cup and the ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan. If the entire tournament had been hosted in Pakistan, eliminating the need for constant travel to Sri Lanka, the visa applications might have been submitted on time. Additionally, improved diplomatic relations between the two nations could have facilitated a faster and smoother workflow. It’s worth noting that the Indian and Pakistan cricket teams have not played a bilateral series in each other’s countries since 2012, And the last instance of Pakistan’s visit to India was in 2016 during the T20 World Cup, marking a seven-year gap in bilateral cricketing engagements between the two nations. These historical factors likely played a significant role in the visa delay that Pakistan’s cricket team faced in preparation for the 2023 Cricket World Cup.