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At least 6 000 police officers will provide security for Zimbabwe cricket, 3 000 of them inside Lahore’s Gaddaffi Stadium during match times.

A cavalcade of 60 vehicles is set to escort the Zimbabwe cricket team, while helicopters would hover around the match venue to offer surveillance for the heroic visit by the southern African nation.

It is Pakistan’s security agents’ “new VIP security plan” to save Zimbabwe’s tour that is hanging by a thread, and had even been cancelled for 16 minutes.

Pakistan Cricket Board insists the country is a safe destination but events unfolding in the country betray their security assurances. The collapse of Zimbabwe’s visit would also be a dagger through the heart.

Air strikes kills 17 in FATA, Seven killed in Balochistan violence, Five killed in separate incidents and Boy injured in explosion in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are some of the chilling headlines from Pakistani media in the past couple of days.

However, Zimbabwe Cricket has decided to plunge into the perpetually volatile city of Lahore where they are scheduled to arrive on May 19 and play two Twenty20 internationals on May 22 and 24 and three one-day internationals on May 26, 29 and 31.

The Chevrons are scheduled to leave the country today, but no official confirmation on whether the tour is on had been obtained from Zimbabwe Cricket by yesterday.

Zimbabwe Cricket director of cricket Alistair Campbell yesterday said he was not in a position to confirm whether the trip was still on.

“Well, it’s out of my control. No statement has been issued yet. We just have to wait for the chairman [Wilson Manase] to make a statement when the time is right,” he said.

Manase’s mobile phone was unreachable yesterday.

Everything was flowing smoothly in recent weeks with regards to the Pakistan tour until last week when terrorists attacked a bus and killed 46 members of the minority community in Karachi.

Earlier on Thursday, ZC issued a statement that the decision had been made to abandon the Pakistan trip, but retracted it barely 16 minutes later.

In the statement, ZC said a decision was reached to cancel the tour on the aice of the Sports and Recreation Commission and the Foreign Affairs ministry.

However, international media reports that Pakistan Cricket Board chairman revealed that his Zimbabwean counterpart had called him to confirm that the tour would go on as planned.

The Newstribe reported that PCB had released ticket details for the Zimbabwe Tour of Pakistan yesterday with the most expensive tickets going for 1 500 Rupees ($24).

Interestingly, the setting for this tour is in Lahore, the same city where gunmen attacked a convoy carrying the Sri Lanka team and test match officials in 2009, and killed security personnel as well as civilians while several Sri Lanka cricketers and a coach were injured.

One wonders why Zimbabwe cricket remains adamant to risk lives by sending a team to the politically unstable subcontinent country. Perhaps it is the lure of financial gain for a cash-strapped association that is trying to get on its feet.

It is understood that Pakistan had done everything by offering to take care of the team’s match fees and allowances, while players had been promised an extra incentive around the region of US$12 500 each, apart from normal match incomes.

Zimbabwe has turned a deaf ear to counsel from a major players’ group, Federation of International Cricketers’ Association, which said the risk of touring Pakistan was “unmanageable” and “remains unacceptable”.

Maybe a give-and-take tour promised by Pakistan was too irresistible to turn down.

Zimbabwe last week agreed to become the first Test-playing nation to tour Pakistan since the attack on the Sri Lanka team.

Source : Zimbabwe Standard