Former Pakistan pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar tweeted, "New Zealand just killed Pakistan Cricket".

But can New Zealand be faulted for calling off the series? In fact, New Zealand’s decision is a tight slap across the face of those who use terror as an instrument of state policy, said Gaurav Sawant of the India Today group.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was in Tajikistan for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit when he was informed of the New Zealand cricket team's decision to pull out of the bilateral series in Rawalpindi and Lahore.

Minutes before the toss, New Zealand announced the decision to return home, citing a threat to the team. Imran Khan, Pakistan’s World Cup-winning captain, immediately reached out to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and tried to give her his assurance, guaranteeing the security of the Black Caps, but she was not impressed. The Pakistan Army had deployed its elite SSG Commandos for close protection of the visiting cricket team. 4,000 Pakistan Army and police personnel were deployed in Rawalpindi and Lahore around the New Zealand cricket squad to ensure total security.

But New Zealand was clearly not impressed. And not without reason.

Images of the Pakistan Air Force Mi 17 helicopter landing in the centre of the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore in March 2009 are still fresh in the minds of the cricket-playing world. Terrorists targeted the Sri Lanka cricket team, injuring five players, including captain Mahela Jayawardene and vice-captain Kumar Sangakkara. Six police personnel and two civilians were killed in the terror attack in the heart of Lahore. Incidentally, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, a UN-designated global terrorist and the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, led the Eid Namaz at the same Gaddafi stadium.

Now it is for Shoaib Akhtar to realise if New Zealand killed Pakistan cricket or Pakistan’s ISI in bed with terrorists from the Haqqani Network in Afghanistan did. 

Why would Jacinda Ardern want to risk her cricketers when the writ of UN-designated global terrorists like Hafiz Saeed runs large across Pakistan's Punjab province and the Pakistan government refuses to take action against UN-designated global terrorists on its soil ?

Former US Secretary of Defence Gen Jim Mattis once called Pakistan the most dangerous country in the world. In his book “Call Sign Chaos”, Gen Mattis wrote: “Of all the countries I’ve dealt with, I consider Pakistan to be the most dangerous, because of the radicalization of its society and the availability of nuclear weapons.'' Jim ‘the Mad Dog’ Mattis also hit out at the Pakistani leadership, saying leaders do not care about the people's future. 

In the past two decades, multiple teams have pulled out of Pakistan, given the precarious security situation. The situation has been alarming since 2002 when the New Zealand team had pulled out of a cricket tour when terrorists attacked the Pearl Continental hotel in Karachi. The team was at the hotel when the terror strike resulted in the deaths of 10 French naval engineers and technicians. The 2nd test match between Pakistan and New Zealand was abandoned, and the Kiwis returned home.

Sri Lankan players were targeted in Lahore in 2009. South Africa called off the tour to Pakistan in October-November 2010, citing security concerns. Bangladesh took the same plea in December 2012. Pakistan went down on a bent knee, requesting West Indies to play in Pakistan in 2016, but despite an agreement on 2 Test matches and 5 One Day International matches, the precarious security scenario resulted in the series being called off. In 2019 Australia turned down Pakistan's request for 2 ODIs to be played in Pakistan.

It is widely expected that Australia and England will also call off their upcoming trips to Pakistan.

Credit: The India Today Group