British Cricketers Withdraw From Pakistan-Backed Kashmir Premier League After Warning From India
Cricket, which originated in the United Kingdom, was brought to the subcontinent by British colonialists in the 18th century. Today, India and Pakistan are among the world’s best cricketing nations. In fact, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan often boasts he captained the Pakistan side that won the world cup in 1992 to boost his political rating.
Four British cricketers have withdrawn rom an Islamabad-backed Kashmir Premier League (KPL) after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) - the world's richest cricketing organisation - issued a stern warning to foreign players not to participate in the event.
According to organisers, four cricketers who have represented England- Monty Panesar, Matt Prior, Phil Mustard and Owais Shah - have opted out of the cricketing league, which will kick off on 6 August.
Several other cricketers from South Africa and Sri Lanka have also excused themselves from playing cricket
in the disputed region, which is controlled by Pakistan but claimed by India.
In a letter to the International Cricket Council (ICC), the Dubai-headquartered organisation in charge of global cricketing activities, the BCCI said that it would sever cricketing and commercial ties with any cricketer who participated in the KPL.
According to the KPL’s organisers, the BCCI has also urged the ICC to not recognise the cricketing competition.
On 31 July, an ex-South African cricketer, who refused to bow to New Delhi’s “pressure”, disclosed that it was “completely unnecessary” of the BCCI to invoke their political agenda to keep him from participating in the Pakistani cricketing tournament.
The Indian cricketing organisation issued a statement last week referring to the Pakistan-administered side of the Kashmir region, which said: "Those cricketers who are taking part in the Kashmir Premier League in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK), will be barred from playing in leagues in India or having any commercial connection with the BCCI, and they can’t be part of any cricket-related work in India.”
In response, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)
accused the BCCI of “bringing the gentlemen's game into disrepute” by threatening international players not to be involved in the tournament.
“The PCB believes the BCCI has once again breached international norms and the spirit of the gentleman’s game by interfering in the internal affairs of ICC Members as the KPL has been approved by the PCB,” said the PCB.
“Such conduct from the BCCI is completely unacceptable, against the preamble of the Spirit of Cricket and sets a dangerous precedent, which can neither be tolerated nor ignored,” it added.
The Pakistani government also weighed in to the ongoing dispute, with the foreign office accusing Delhi of “politicising” cricket.
Pakistan’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain called the BCCI’s decision “regrettable”.
For its part, Delhi says that Pakistan-administered Kashmir is under the illegal occupation of Islamabad and has often asked the Pakistani authorities to vacate the “illegally occupied territories”.
Pakistan, on other hand, rejects India’s sovereignty over the Jammu and Kashmir region, a former Indian state which was previously administered as a semi-autonomous region by Delhi. In 2019, the Indian government revoked the state’s autonomous status and split it into federally administered territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Leh. Pakistan has rejected the changes, although Delhi refers to them as “an internal matter”.