What brought cricket back?

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3rd March 2009 was marked as black day in the history of Pakistani cricket. Sri Lankan team left Pakistan shaken & hurt. The attack haunted Pakistan for a period of eight years; it deprived an entire generation of experiencing the most celebrated game in the country as International teams stopped visiting Pakistan.

Despite of all the reservations of international players, the cricket board and the whole nation had faith that they will fight back with unprecedented resilience and determination and will end this isolation once and for all. Since Zimbabwe tour, we have seen international cricket in bits and pieces. Bringing final of T20 back home last year was a big achievement that finally ended the cricket isolation in the country.

No wonder that final of T20 was an important event for the nation, but the confidence of the international players brought a great responsibility of keeping the security arrangements as apt as possible. PSL brought the smiles and thrill back to the face of cricket freaks. Stadiums in Lahore are preferred over other stadiums in the country by PCB because of the ability of Punjab government to tackle with any uncertain security situations. ICC visits and make sure the arrangements are up to the mark before any event. There are many departments that work together at the back end to ensure peaceful execution of such events. Special squad, Punjab Safe City, Punjab Police, Dolphin force, Traffic Police Punjab and standstill rangers works together to make these events successful.

The Traffic Police Punjab shared their traffic plan and alternate routes for this event too to save people from any inconvenience; however, the general public had mixed reactions on the traffic arrangements as they had to spend added hours to get through the deadlock caused by extra security and bad weather.

The strict traffic plan isn’t something new, the host countries have to make special arrangements to ensure security of the guests. In case of Pakistan, the government cannot afford to stay calm due to an unforgettable mistake made during the governor rule, the general public has to pay some price in order to bring cricket back home. In Olympics, or in any other big event, the life of a commoner on road is likely to be affected, but it at least it is providing people entertainment and is giving our good image to the rest of the world which will open doors for future events as well.

Sindh Police visited Qaddafi stadium during the final of T20 match to see how the security measures are taken care. Sindh Police was happy to see the arrangements, active and proactive approach of the departments and the CM himself; they seemed unhappy due to the lack of such approach in their province. The good part is, at least they took initiative in coming forth and seeing the arrangement which eventually helped them to execute a peaceful event in Karachi. People around Karachi were thrilled by the joy this event brought to them.

During the two days of PSL matches in Lahore, everyone followed the rule despite of their status and designation, the authorities made the rules followed and no special protocols were given to anyone.  Speedo busses were deployed to take the viewers to the stadium. A peaceful entrance and exit was ensured that resulted in a peaceful event.

The remarks from ICC, PCB, and players in particular were very positive and over whelming. Pakistani players were overly excited and the general public and cricket freaks could hardly contain their excitement.

There are many countries other than Pakistan where the uncertain security situation raised concerns for the guest teams but Pakistan was mainly highlighted due to external factors that points militant groups and the civil war in the country.

PSL final and World XI were important events that were being hosted by Pakistan last year. Zimbabwe was the first international team that Pakistan hosted after the unforgettable Sri Lankan incident happened during the governor rule of Salman Taseer. World XI provided us with an opportunity to host many big names in the cricket world from seven big countries. However, no name from the neighboring country came forth whatsoever as they continued to maintain their (never-ending) reservations.

PCB, CCPO and Punjab government in assistance with army has been successful in organizing big events in the country and worked towards the revival of international cricketing. These institutions have brought the isolation of international Cricket to an end. It all started with the Sri Lankan team and PCB had been successful in bringing the same team back in the same stadium which is nothing less than a tight slap for those who wanted to keep Pakistan isolated. Karachi has hosted a very successful final of PSL in collaboration with the security forces, army, rangers, Sindh police and proved that no region in Pakistan is unsafe for the visitors.

We are happy, hopeful and looking forward to host more events in future as they bring people from different part of the country and politicians from different parties together and promote our soft image. The country’s image as a peaceful and safe to visit will also attract tourists alongside cricketers and generate economic benefits in the longer run.

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