On Wednesday afternoon, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry did a press conference in Islamabad. The topic of the around-one-hour press conference, which was attended by national and international media, was to highlight how India “sabotaged” the New Zealand cricket tour of Pakistan, as a ripple effect of which, the tour of English men and women’s cricket teams too was cancelled.
According to them, the tour of New Zealand was called off after The Sunday Guardian published a report on 21 August warning the cricketing world about a possible terror attack on the touring members. (https://www.sundayguardianlive.com/news/new-zealand-cricket-team-may-face-terror-attack-pakistan).
The Sunday Guardian’s report was based on the statement made by former Taliban commander Ehsanullah Ehsan on his Facebook profile, as has been mentioned in the report. The two ministers claimed in the press conference that the said post by Ehsan was “fake”.
However, The Sunday Guardian had confirmed the authenticity of the said post through multiple sources in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. Also, the said Facebook profile of Ehsan was being used by him for many days.
Hours after the two ministers blamed India and The Sunday Guardian for the abandonment of the New Zealand tour, Ehsanullah Ehsan released an audio recording confirming and reiterating that he had written the said post so that he could “save the New Zealand cricket team from harm”.
The Sunday Guardian, during the course of working on this report, also verified through other sources based in the region about an imminent ISIS planned attack on the New Zealand touring team.
It is a known fact that Ehsan, who was under the house arrest of the Pakistan army for more than two and a half years before escaping, has very close ties with a few Pakistan army officers.
Following this, The Sunday Guardian reached out to the International Cricket Council and New Zealand Cricket for their responses on the claims made by Ehsan. The response received from New Zealand cricket was duly incorporated in the report.
However flattering it is for The Sunday Guardian to be credited with an “overseas operation that has dented the Pakistan economy”, still it will be wrong to say that the New Zealand and England cricket boards decided to cancel their respective tours, causing a loss of millions of dollars to the Pakistan Cricket Board, on the basis of a report published by The Sunday Guardian.
The newspaper did its job of reporting news about a possible terror attack on cricketers, which would have been a repeat of what the touring Sri Lankan cricket team faced in March 2009.