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Pakistan Laments Cricket Matches Unplayed, and Blames Politics


“You will understand why we are unable to provide additional information about the nature of the intelligence, other than to say that it was a direct threat and it was a real threat,” Ms Ardern was quoted as saying on Sunday. …

Officials in Pakistan said they had not received threats and asked their New Zealand counterparts for more information. A former spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, or TTP, a banned terrorist group, said in a Facebook post ahead of a scheduled game in New Zealand that the team may have been targeted by another group.

“As far as I know, the global jihadist organization (IS) is looking for a big target in Pakistan,” Ehsanullah Ehsan said, referring to the Islamic State terrorist group. It was unclear if Mr. Ehsan was aware of any planned attack, and shortly thereafter, his Facebook account was deleted.

The cancellation of the tour was met with widespread anger and disappointment in Pakistan. “We were all very excited and looking forward to watching the match at the stadium,” said 41-year-old Nawab Ahmed Alam, owner of a cricket club in Islamabad, adding that he bought a ticket to watch the first match between Pakistan and New Zealand. … “But now that the tours have been canceled, cricket fans feel like Pakistan has been thrown back 10 years.”

The cancellation is especially frustrating for locals as teams from other countries such as Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and South Africa began arriving in 2015, raising hopes that things can return to normal.

“This is very unfortunate because spectators and fans want to see their cricket heroes play in front of them at home against foreign teams,” said Mr Alam. “The fans are devoid of thrill and pleasure.”

Pakistani officials say the country’s security has improved significantly following a series of crackdowns on militant groups, notably the Pakistani Taliban, which launched a bloody campaign of terrorist attacks from 2007 to 2014.

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