As the ICC World Cup 2023 unfolds on Indian soil, frustration looms large for Pakistan fans and media personnel who are still awaiting visa clearance from Indian authorities to attend the tournament. Despite a heartening welcome for the Pakistani team in Hyderabad, their opening match was played without the presence of their devoted fans and media contingent.
Bashir Chacha: A Lone Pakistani Representation: The only Pakistani representation in the stands was none other than Mohammad Bashir, affectionately known in cricketing circles as ‘Bashir Chacha.’ Currently residing in the USA, Chicago, Bashir Chacha was fortunate to secure a visa clearance, thanks to his residential status. His presence, however, highlighted the absence of fans from Pakistan’s major cities like Lahore, Karachi, and Rawalpindi who were eager to travel to Hyderabad.
Media Absence Raises Eyebrows: While former cricketer and commentator Waqar Younis, pre-broadcaster member Zainab Abbas, and statistician Mazher Arshad received the green light from Indian authorities, the media personnel from Pakistan were conspicuously missing during the Pakistan-Netherlands clash.
A report by Sportstar revealed that approximately 60 journalists had applied for Indian visas to cover the tournament on behalf of Pakistani media outlets. The list of journalists had been initially shared with the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) by the International Cricket Council (ICC). However, despite their applications, no visas were granted.
Uncertainty Persists: A source within the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) expressed disappointment, stating that the World Cup had already commenced, yet there had been no word regarding the visa approvals. HCA returned the accreditation cards to the BCCI, citing concerns about potential misuse and the sensitivity of the matter.
A senior HCA official stated, “These cards can be misused if they fall into the wrong hands, and it’s a very sensitive matter. We don’t want to take any risks, as there will be a huge inflow of media from different places and other countries. We have not received any communication from the BCCI or the ICC.”
Hope Rests with ICC: The PCB remains hopeful that the ICC will step in and engage with the Indian government and relevant authorities to expedite the visa clearance process. The absence of passionate fans and the media contingent is a poignant reminder of the challenges that sometimes overshadow the spirit of cricket, which knows no boundaries. As the tournament progresses, Pakistan fans and journalists hold on to the hope of witnessing their team’s journey in the ICC World Cup 2023 firsthand.