The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, has given assurances that the upcoming Rawalpindi Test match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka will go ahead as scheduled and will not be disrupted by any planned protest march.
Khan was responding to news that a planned protest march in the area could disrupt the event, scheduled to start on December 11, 2019. This is the first Test match taking place in Pakistan since 2009, when a terrorist attack shut down international cricket in the country.
In an interview, Khan said, “I have all confidence that these matches will take place in a peaceful manner. I want to assure our stakeholders, organisers and participants of the match that the government will not allow any disruption in the international cricket match in Rawalpindi. We are completely determined to see the match held in a peaceful atmosphere.”
Khan went on to say that the Pakistan Army and the Rawalpindi police are working together to ensure that all security measures necessary for the event are in place. He added, “We want to show the world the peaceful image of Pakistan. Cricket brings people and countries closer, and I want to take advantage of that opportunity.”
Khan has also requested local cricketers and citizens to refrain from any protests on the day of the Test match and to cooperate with the security organisations in the area.
The Test match is expected to attract thousands of cricket fans from across the country, making it a major event in Pakistan’s cricket calendar. With Khan’s assurance, all preparations are underway for a successful, peaceful and enjoyable match.
Imran Khan Gives Assurances About Rawalpindi Test Ahead of Planned Protest March
Pakistan Prime Minister, Imran Khan, has re-assured cricket lovers that a Test cricket match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka will go ahead in Rawalpindi as planned despite pledge of a protest march by Muslim clergy next week.
Planned Protest March
Muslim clerics had said that they would march to the stadium to protest sports activities in Pakistan on Sunday. The march has been planned to coincide with the fourth and final day of the Test match with the protestors alleging that sports such as cricket, football and hockey are un-Islamic and are a distraction from duties mandated by Islam.
PM Khan Rejoinders
On Wednesday, PM Imran Khan on Wednesday explicitly responded to the announcement by the clerics saying, “This is a serious issue. We have opened our doors to international cricket. Have some consideration.”
He has requested the clergy to reconsider as the game will benefit the border areas in the country financially and it also a form of sports that every country has been organizing and attending.
Benefits of the Match
The Prime Minister reiterated the amount of financial benefits the region would receive if the test match went ahead. He argued that not only will the match provide money to the local businesses and cricket-related organisations, it will also help to draw attention away from more problematic nations in the region.
Khan further said that this is an opportunity for the border areas to express their opinion on international cricket and will benefit the area in the long run.
The Prime Minister concluded his assertions with the hope that the clerics will consider the effects it would have on the area if the game was cancelled and not proceed with the planned protest march.
PM Khan also said that no activity can be completely forbidden in a democratic society, while still respecting the sensitivities of fellow Muslims.