LAHORE: Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan on Tuesday assured the British High Commissioner to Pakistan Christian Turner and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ramiz Raja that the forthcoming long march would not disturb the Test series between Pakistan and England starting in Rawalpindi on Dec 1.
The PTI has announced to begin a long march against the present government from Rawalpindi on Nov 26.
England after a long gap of 17 years toured Pakistan prior to this year’s T20 World Cup to play a seven-match T20 series which the tourists won 4-3. The English Test team is scheduled to tour Pakistan for the second leg comprising three Tests to be played in Rawalpindi, (Dec 1-5), Multan (Dec 9-13) and Karachi (Dec 17-21).
Turner and Ramiz in their joint meeting with Imran at his Zaman Park residence informed the former prime minister about the importance of England team’s tour to Pakistan and expressed their concerns over the security of the tourists that maybe compromised in case of political unrest in the country.
Imran, Pakistan’s 1992 World Cup-winning captain, during the meeting was told that the said series was crucial for cricket of both the countries and therefore it needed to be free from any possible security-related issue.
In response, Imran was very positive and assured Turner and Ramiz that his party workers would not interrupt the Rawalpindi Test, and emphasised that his political campaign would not be a security threat for the English team.
It is unconfirmed if Ramiz had gone to Zaman Park after getting clearance from Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who is also PCB’s patron-in-chief, as Imran is a staunch political opponent of PM Shahbaz.
It may be mentioned here that Rawalpindi city is part of the Punjab government, where PTI is in power. Therefore, arranging and maintaining security in the city is the direct responsibility of the provincial government.
Still both Ramiz and Christian preferred to meet the PTI chairman to get assurance about the security necessary for the smooth conduct of the Test series.