The PCB still hopes India's tour to Pakistan in January 2008 will go ahead but acknowledges the situation has now changed considerably, following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai on Wednesday night. Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman, said the tour going ahead would send out a message to terrorists that life will not be disrupted, but said the fate of the already troubled series is now out of the board's hands and in those of both governments.
Butt was speaking to reporters in Karachi, where he went to meet the governor of the province to talk about arrangements for India's visit, if it went ahead. "The situation has changed following the horrific attacks in Mumbai," Butt said.
"I think it is now up to our government. If India comes to Pakistan, this gives a clear message to terrorists that they cannot disrupt life and that it will go on. But after the attacks it depends on both governments."
The tour has been in doubt in recent weeks following ongoing militant violence in parts of Pakistan. A suicide bombing at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad a few months ago set alarm bells ringing and the BCCI has said it will await clearance from the Indian government before making a final decision.
India played in Pakistan in June-July this year, in the Asia Cup and has been one of the few established countries to tour Pakistan in recent years. The PCB has said the option of playing the series at a neutral venue, possibly in the Middle East, remains open, though only as a last resort.
Butt described the meeting with the governor as a "useful one" and reiterated the board's stance on the tour. "Prior to the Mumbai attacks our priority was to convince India to come and tour. Until this incident I was confident. Only as a last resort will we consider playing at a neutral venue."
Butt has met on two occasions with the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad with regard to the tour and was scheduled to travel to India to meet Shashank Manohar, the BCCI president, next month. That meeting is now likely to take place at the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) meeting in Sri Lanka, on December 5, where Butt will formally take over as head of the ACC.
"It is vitally important for the Pakistan team that they play some Tests right now," Butt said, implying the venue may not be as important as the contest itself, after a year in which Pakistan has not played a single Test. "Playing the likes of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe will not help us improve competitively. My wish is that we play and compete, here preferably, but somewhere [else] if that isn't possible."