Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani will decide next week if the Indian cricket team will tour Pakistan, a senior minister in the Vajpayee government told rediff.com on Friday.
"The final decision will be taken by the prime minister and deputy prime minister after the three-member BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) currently visiting Pakistan returns to India on Saturday," the minister said.
The home ministry has asked Delhi police officers for a detailed report on three Harkat ul Jehadi-Islami terrorists who were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for plotting to kidnap Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.
Abdul Majid, Mohammad Ashraf and Mohammad Imran confessed they had been sent to kidnap the Indian cricketers by Jaish-e-Mohammad leader Maulana Masood Azhar in exchange for terrorists Nasrullah Langreeyal and Abdul Rahim currently lodged in Rajasthan's high-security Jodhpur jail.
Advani is constantly being updated by security agencies on the threat preception to the Indian players from terror groups in Pakistan.
The BCCI team comprising Joint Secretary Professor Ratnakar Shetty, Director Media Relations Amrit Mathur and Yashovardhan Azad, Inspector General of Police attached to the home ministry and national selector Kirti Azad's brother, has been visiting venues in Pakistan.
Home ministry officials said Australia and New Zealand too reviewed their commitments after a series of blasts in Pakistan before commencement of their tours.
The Pakistan Cricket Board may move the International Cricket Council if the BCCI calls off the tour or asks for rescheduling it to a later date.
Pakistani officials have assured the BCCI team of providing appropriate security cover for the Indian players. They cite the security that surrounded Vajpayee's visit to Pakistan last month to reinforce their argument that they are capable of providing adequate protection to the Indian stars.
But Indian intelligence officials say there is a vast difference between providing security cover to someone like Prime Minister Vajpayee and the Indian cricket team.
Weeks before the prime minister arrived in Islamabad to attend the SAARC conference, Special Protection Group agents visited all the venues Vajpayee was scheduled to visit.
"Virtually everything is turned upside down to ensure that everything is in order before a VVIP walks into a place. The security requirements of the hotel where he stays are even more stringent. No unauthorized person is allowed to come anywhere near the VVIP. It would be difficult to provide the cricketers this kind of security cover. Since the Indian team would have a minimum of 16 players besides officials it would be even more difficult to protect them. A stray incident could lead to calling off the tour," a senior intelligence official told rediff.com
Before taking a final decision the government is likely to hold talks with BCCI officials and talk to senior players to ascertain their concerns.