Pakistan 'must be patient'
Karachi - Pakistan has been told to be patient while foreign teams build up enough confidence in the country's security to send its national sides there on tour.
With hundreds of people having died in suicide bomb attacks across the country, Pakistan has become a no-go zone for foreign teams for more than a year.
Owing to the security and safety concerns of visiting countries, the Pakistan Cricket Board was forced to organise its home series at neutral venues in the United Arab Emirates, while its home Test series against New Zealand last year was played on opposition soil.
Pakistan is also scheduled to compete against Australia in both Test and one-day series in England this summer.
International Cricket Council chief executive Haroon Lorgat said: "Pakistan should be patient in these testing times as there's a lack of confidence (in foreign teams)."
Lorgat is the first high-profile international cricket official to tour Pakistan since gunmen attacked the Sri Lanka team bus at Lahore last year, leaving six police officials and a van driver dead.
"The ICC is very keen to ensure Pakistan play at neutral venues rather than not competing at the international level, which I think will be detrimental for Pakistan cricket," Lorgat said.
"(It is) an unfortunate reflection of circumstances that's been beyond the control of Pakistan cricket. We are trying our level best (that) they play."
Lorgat said Pakistan should take heart from the experience of his home country South Africa, which continued to play strong domestic cricket and was a good match for its international rivals after returning from apartheid.
"PCB has strategic plans to ensure that domestically the game thrives and it retains its place in the international cricket world by competing, and ensuring that they keep the national team as strong as they've ever been," Lorgat said.
This year's series against Australia in England is part of the ICC taskforce's plans to help Pakistan compete against top teams at neutral venues.
Lorgat was in Pakistan as part of the buildup to the World Twenty20 tournament, which takes place in the West Indies. Pakistan is the defending champion after winning the trophy in England last year.
"It's fantastic to visit the reigning champions Pakistan and I am sure they will perform well this year too," Lorgat said.
Lorgat was hard-pressed to predict who will win the trophy in a month's time, but chose Pakistan, India, Australia and South Africa as the four semifinalists.
"Those are my four teams and I guess any big performance beyond that which Shahid Afridi did in the semifinal and final last year can win the tournament," Lorgat said.
PCB chairperson Ijaz Butt hoped Lorgat's visit would go a long way to reviving international cricket in Pakistan.
"Haroon's presence in Pakistan at a time when international cricket is not possible here is hugely reassuring and once again illustrates the commitment of the game's global governing body to do whatever it can to help ensure cricket remains healthy in Pakistan," Butt said.
Pakistan's Twenty20 captain Afridi is confident his team will repeat last year's performance in the competition, when it defeated Sri Lanka in the final to win the trophy.
"It gives you the belief and confidence that if you can do it once, you can do it again," Afridi said.
Lorgat said the World Twenty20 will be the first ICC tournament in which five Asian teams - India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan - will be competing.
"Afghanistan has done exceedingly well to come this far and it is especially relevant to Pakistan as many of those in the (Afghanistan) squad learnt and played the game in or around Peshawar," Lorgat said.