Lahore: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has expressed "extreme" disappointment over the removal of posters of Pakistan Prime Minister and World Cup-winning skipper Imran Khan in the Cricket Club of India, Mumbai, and elsewhere and IMG Reliance pulling out of the deal to produce and broadcast PSL 2019 in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attacks.
PCB Managing Director Wasim Khan said in a statement that cricket has always played a key role in building bridges between people and countries.
"Unfortunately, denying India cricket fans the right to follow HBL PSL by blocking all digital coverage as well as covering or removing portrait of former Pakistan cricket captain and Prime Minister Imran Khan and other legendary cricketers from one of the most historic cricket clubs and venues are highly regrettable actions.
"The PCB has also noted the recent turn of events and expresses its extreme disappointment as we have always believed and emphasised that sports and politics should be kept separate. History tells us that sports, particularly cricket, have always played a key role in building bridges between people and countries." Wasim said in a statement.
He, however, remained positive about the PCB managing a new partner by Monday while expressing disappointment that the Indian public will be denied the opportunity to watch the PSL.
"We have been informed by IMG Reliance that they will be unable to partner with us for the remaining HBL PSL 2019 and PCB has reserved all its rights. The PCB always had a contingency plan in place and we are confident we will be in a position to announce the new partner on Monday after the completion of the formalities," he said.
Wasim said that the PCB will take up the matter with its Indian counterparts, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the global cricket governing body in the upcoming International Cricket Council (ICC) committee meeting in Dubai later this month.
"The PCB intends to take up these incidents with the BCCI and the ICC at the upcoming ICC committee meeting in Dubai later this month," he said.
In protest against the killing of 49 CRPF troopers by a Jaish-e-Mohammed suicide bomber near Srinagar on Thursday, the Cricket Club of India (CCI) and the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali had on Sunday removed the portraits and pictures of Imran Khan and other Pakistani cricketers which were placed in their premises.