Officials believe Islamabad is paying the price for taking a stand on geopolitical issues that did not go down well with powerful Western countries.

Millions of cricket fans in Pakistan and elsewhere were eagerly waiting for home tours.
Millions of cricket fans in Pakistan and elsewhere were eagerly waiting for home tours. (AP)

Pakistani officials have reacted strongly to recent decisions of New Zealand and English to cancel cricket series in the country on what Islamabad sees as unspecified security threat. 

The "western bloc" seems united against Pakistan, said Ramiz Raja, Pakistan Cricket Board's (PCB) chairman, on Tuesday.

"I am severely disappointed in England's withdrawal but it was expected because this western bloc gets united unfortunately and tries to back each other," Ramiz said in a video message.

Cricket-crazy Pakistanis were eagerly waiting for a series of matches in Rawalpindi when the Black Caps pulled out minutes before the tournament was to start last week. 

Then on Monday, England announced it will not send its men and women cricket teams to play home games in Pakistan, delivering a financial and credibility blow to Islamabad. 

READ MOREAnother setback for Pakistan as England cricket team cancels tour

Paid price for saying 'no' to US drone bases

Pakistan is paying the price for refusing to allow America to use its air bases to launch future operations inside Afghanistan, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told a press conference. 

"If nations want to hold their head high then there is a price for that and nations pay that. I think Pakistan is ready to deal with any challenge. If you say 'absolutely not' then it has a price and you have to pay it," he said. 

That 'absolutely not' remark refers to Prime Minister Imran Khan's categorical refusal to allow US use of Pakistani soil to carry out drone strikes in neighbouring Afghanistan. 

Pakistan is now mulling the option of taking legal action against cricket boards of New Zealand and England - two of the five members of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance. 

Cancellation of tournaments means millions of dollars in lost revenue for PCB, which has already struggled over the years to attract international players. 

International crickets had stopped visiting Pakistan after an armed attack on the Sri Lankan team in 2009. 

READ MORE: Will Pakistan cricket recover from the New Zealand blow?

Stab in back

The England and Wales Cricket Board cited increased concerns about travelling to the region while canceling the tour that was supposed to start next month.

"There was a sense of anger because first New Zealand got away without sharing information about the threat they were facing," said Raja. 

"This (England) decision was expected but this is a lesson for us because we go out of our way to accommodate and pamper these sides when they visit."

Pakistan has twice toured England since the pandemic and travelled to New Zealand and the West Indies.

For many in Pakistan, the decision of the English team would seem akin to a stab in the back as last summer Pakistan helped England save its cricketing summer by sending its national team there to play a series despite serious Covid-19 concerns. 

Beating India, NZL, England

The PCB had lined up a domestic season with teams like New Zealand, England, West Indies, and Australia.

Pakistan was supposed to play at least 12 Twenty20s ahead of the World Cup, but with the withdrawal of both England and New Zealand it will go into the event with just one completed T20. 

This was against the West Indies.

Raja said this put into question matches against the West Indies and Australia.

"We have a West Indies series that can also be hit, and Australia who is already reconsidering. This England, Australia, and New Zealand are all one block. Who can we complain to?"

Raja said Zimbabwe was willing to play in Pakistan to fill the gap left by both New Zealand and England. 

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had offered to send their second-string teams. However, all these suggested tours could not materialise due to "logistical difficulties," Raja said.

Pakistan has scheduled its own domestic National T20 Cup in which all the World Cup players are going to participate. 

Raja said Pakistan has set its target to beat at least three teams.

"We had one team in our target, our neighbours (India), now add two more teams, New Zealand and England," Raja said.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies