The Pakistan Cricket Board is hopeful of convincing an ICC team of security experts, visiting next week, that the country is safe enough for hosting the Champions Trophy in September.
"We are very hopeful that the ICC team will clear Pakistan as hosts of the Champions Trophy following this month's visit," Zakir Khan, the PCB's director of cricket operations, told The News. "For us, it's very important that all possible homework is done before the [security team's] visit.
"We will be offering security cover to players and officials that is generally reserved for visiting heads of state," he said.
The ICC team is scheduled to visit Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi - the three venues for the tournament - from May 19 to 22 to assess the security situation and other arrangements being made by the PCB.
Zakir said the PCB was in the process of lining up high-level meetings involving Interior Ministry officials, government representatives in the three cities and top officials of the security agencies. The delegation will file a report after the trip based on which the ICC's executive board will take a final decision regarding the event.
Two months ago, the ICC had confirmed Sri Lanka as an alternate venue to host the Champions Trophy because of apprehensions about the security situation in Pakistan. Though the situation has improved considerably in recent months following general elections in February and the arrival of a new government, the last year was one of the most violent in Pakistan's history. Against this backdrop, Australia pulled out of a tour in March-April.
Though Pakistan has only hosted Zimbabwe and Bangladesh so far this year, they are due to host tsome high-profile contests as the year progresses. They begin by staging the Asia Cup at the end of June, before the Champions Trophy in September. Then, towards the end of the year, they are scheduled to host India for a full series as well.