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Pakistan bid to host Twenty20 championship in 2014

Foreign teams are reluctant to visit Pakistan over security fears © AFP

Pakistan's cricket chief said the country will bid to host the 2014 World Twenty20 championship and vowed to revive international cricket in the troubled nation, a paper reported on Monday.

Speaking to the English-language newspaper The News, in Johannesburg, Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt said he was battling to improve Pakistan's reputation as foreign teams snub the country over security fears.

"We will bid to host the 2014 Twenty20 event in Pakistan and hopefully by that time the conditions to host international events would be ideal in our country," he told the paper.

Butt is in South Africa to attend meetings of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and is also scheduled to meet officials from other countries.

"These coming few days are very important for Pakistan cricket," he said.

"I am planning to attend some crucial meetings with the other board counterparts in an effort to muster up their support for the revival of cricket in Pakistan."

Pakistan's standing as an international cricket venue was already floundering when militants launched a gun and grenade attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in March this year, plunging the sport into crisis here.

The attacks, which left eight people dead and injured seven Sri Lankan players and their assistant coach, put paid to Pakistan's chances of staging international cricket in the near future.

Even before the attack teams had refused to tour Pakistan over security fears in a country where the army is fighting a fierce Taliban insurgency.

Citing security risks, the ICC in February relocated the Champions Trophy from Pakistan to South Africa, where it is currently being played. Pakistan was also stripped of its share of 2011 World Cup matches.

Butt said he hoped for a return of the Indo-Pak cricket series, which was put on hold after militant attacks on Mumbai in November last year which India blamed on insurgents based in Pakistan.

"The ICC... have also accepted that the series could be organised at neutral venues till the time the situation improves in Pakistan," he said.

The ICC is scheduled to finalise the Future Tour Programme in its meeting starting on October 1 in South Africa. The programme aims at providing member countries a full schedule of cricket series post 2012.

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