Sri Lanka will not tour Pakistan unless they get security clearance, according to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) secretary Nishantha Ranatunga. The PCB had asked SLC for their views on playing the scheduled series between the two sides in Pakistan - at the insistence of the Pakistan government - but Sri Lanka's concerns indicate the tour is very unlikely to happen.
"We have received requests from Pakistan over the past three or four months," Ranatunga said. "The PCB told us that they would like to host our team as scheduled in the FTP [Future Tours Programme]. We told them our stance that we need security clearance first before sending a team there again."
On Sunday night, a major terrorist attack in Karachi at a naval base - which was eventually held under siege overnight - near the National Stadium further diminished the possibility of Sri Lanka visiting. A PCB official privately conceded the chances of a visit after such an attack were now significantly reduced.
On Sri Lanka's last tour of Pakistan, the tourists' team bus was attacked on its way to the Gadaffi Stadium in Lahore, cutting the tour short. There has not been any international cricket in Pakistan since. Afghanistan will become the first international team to play in Pakistan next week when they take on Pakistan 'A' in three 50-over games, but the PCB were aiming at a higher profile home series.
"We have sent them a fresh invite to play the series of three Tests, five one-day internationals and one Twenty20 match in Pakistan in October-November," PCB spokesman Nadeem Sarwar said on Sunday. "We are waiting for their response but we have given them full security assurances." His comments came before the reports of the attack in Karachi.
SLC interim committee chairman Somachandra de Silva said Sri Lanka responded to the Pakistani invitation saying that they are not going to play the series in Pakistan.
"We have replied to the PCB and await their confirmation. We are not going to play in Pakistan at this stage and have offered to host the series in our country," de Silva told the Daily Mirror. "If they agree to play in Sri Lanka they will have to bear the entire hosting costs. We have also expressed our willingness to play at a neutral venue in Dubai or Abu Dhabi."
de Silva had earlier told AFP that security clearance from a Pakistan Task Team, formed by the ICC in 2009, is essential before considering any tour of Pakistan. Ranatunga confirmed that there were several issues that need to be worked out before any series in Pakistan can take place.
"Pakistan cricket is going through a difficult period, and we are keen to help them out as they are one of our best friends. But we have to consider the safety of our players," Ranatunga said. "First we have to get the security clearance. Then only will we discuss it with the cricketers. You have to remember that most of them were victims of the previous attack."