PCB officials, including chairman Ijaz Butt, met with officials from the Indian High Commission on Wednesday to discuss the forthcoming Indian tour to Pakistan, the fate of which is likely to be finalised in ten days.
The meeting took place at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore and lasted about half an hour, with one official describing it as "fruitful". "It was a mutually beneficial meeting," the official "Issues of the tour were discussed and broadly speaking it was a fruitful and useful meeting."
As a further indication of the Pakistan board's resolve in seeing the series held in Pakistan in January, Butt met Yousuf Raza Gillani, the prime minister of Pakistan, in Islamabad on Thursday morning in a bid to enlist government help in ensuring the series goes ahead. "The game of cricket is loved by the people of both India and Pakistan and the government [of Pakistan] will ensure proper security arrangements for organising the forthcoming Pak-India cricket series," Gilani said in a statement. "This is a very high-profile tour and Indian government would be provided assurance regarding their security concerns."
Though India has been one of the few regular visitors to Pakistan at a time when many countries have refused to visit over security concerns, the fate of the 2009 tour has been unusually uncertain. India visited in June-July for the Asia Cup this year, but concerns increased after the Champions Trophy, due to be held in September, was postponed following security concerns.
Last week, a tour by India's junior hockey team to Pakistan was scrapped at the very last minute after the Indian government refused to approve the security plans offered by Pakistan. That suddenly ratcheted up the pressure on this tour, though it is understood the security the PCB will provide will be of a far higher level - as has been the case in the past.
The tour is an increasingly crucial one for Pakistan, not just because they haven't played a Test this year. If India pull out of a tour for security reasons, it effectively means no established team will tour Pakistan for the foreseeable future. Financially as well, India's visit is a vital one for a board short of cash from a year of postponed tours.
Alternatives have been spoken about, such as the series being switched to a neutral venue or maybe even India. Pakistani officials privately concede that "plans B and C, involving a number of neutral venues, have had to be discussed" for pragmatism's sake, but that the priority is for the series to go ahead at home. The BCCI has stopped short of confirming the tour, though it has told the PCB that pending the government's go-ahead, it is on as scheduled.