The Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Zaka Ashraf, has taken steps to address the ongoing visa issuance delays faced by Pakistani journalists and fans who are eager to cover and witness the ICC World Cup 2023 in India. In a meeting with Foreign Secretary Syrus Sajjad Qazi, Ashraf discussed the pressing issue and sought assistance in expediting the visa process.
According to a statement released by the PCB, Ashraf not only conveyed his concerns but also requested the Foreign Secretary to engage with the Indian Home Ministry and the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi to resolve the visa delays promptly.
The statement from PCB expressed the organization’s disappointment with the lingering uncertainty surrounding the issuance of Indian visas to Pakistani journalists and fans who are keen to cover and support their team during the ICC World Cup 2023. The PCB emphasized that it had reminded both the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) of their respective obligations and terms and conditions outlined in the Host agreement. These conditions are meant to ensure smooth visa processing for fans and journalists representing participating teams.
The ICC, as the event organizer, operates under the auspices of the BCCI. Currently, approximately 60 journalists are awaiting approval to travel to India to cover the ODI showpiece. Pakistan’s cricket team has already played their opening match against the Netherlands on October 6 and is scheduled to face Sri Lanka on the following Tuesday.
Of particular note is the high-profile clash between Pakistan and India, which is slated for October 14 in Ahmedabad. The visa application process for Pakistani journalists falls under the purview of India’s prior reference category (PRC) list, requiring scrutiny by multiple government departments, including home, external affairs, and sports ministries.
The prolonged delay in visa issuance has raised concerns within the cricketing community, as timely and efficient access for journalists and fans is essential for the success and coverage of international cricket tournaments. The PCB’s efforts to engage with relevant authorities, both within India and through diplomatic channels, reflect their commitment to addressing these challenges and ensuring the seamless participation of Pakistani media and fans in the ICC World Cup 2023.