Pakistan bans its cricketers from the Afghan T20 league

The Pakistan Cricket Board has stopped its players from competing in Afghanistan’s domestic Twenty20 league.

Karman Akmal, Umar Akmal and Babar Azam were among those Pakistan players contracted by franchises to compete in Shpageeza Cricket League, starting in Kabul from July 18.

The two boards held a meeting last week in Lahore to discuss revival of cricketing ties

But the PCB said in a statement Friday that none of the Pakistan players or the coaches will be issued the required No Objection Certificate for the league in Afghanistan.

“No Pakistani player or official can feature in the league,” the PCB said.

Ties between the Afghanistan Cricket Board and the PCB have become tense in the aftermath of Wednesday’s bomb attack in Kabul, which killed at least 90 people.

While there has been no claim of responsibility, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency has blamed Pakistan and the Taliban-linked Haqqani network for the attack.

The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) has sought to “cancel all kinds of cricket matches and mutual relationship agreement with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)”, reported Aljazeera.

The Afghan board canceled two Twenty20s matches against Pakistan that were scheduled to be played in July and August.

Last week, the ACB delegation, including its chairman Atif Mashal, had visited Lahore and agreed on resuming cricketing ties at youth and senior levels.

“We know there is tension in the border but it’s my job to keep this interaction between two cricketing nations going and to help governments start something positive,” Mashal had said in Lahore.

“We are trying our best to keep sports, especially cricket, away from politics as well as looking for our national interests.”

On Thursday, the PCB also issued a statement rejecting what it termed “baseless allegations” about Pakistan backing terrorism while also claiming the PCB had cancelled a proposed cricket series on the basis of ongoing insecurity in Afghanistan.

“It is also deeply regrettable that the ACB delegation in Pakistan was at pains to insist that politics should not impinge on cricket but has now turned around and is playing politics by laying the blame for its own troubles and inadequacies on Pakistan,” the PCB statement said.

“The PCB has always encouraged the development of cricket in Afghanistan and millions of Afghan refugees were first introduced to the game in Pakistan.

“Over the years, the PCB helped cricketers in Afghanistan develop their expertise and an entire generation of Afghan national players honed their cricketing skills in Pakistan.”

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