Islamabad: Former Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya believes Pakistan is safe enough to host international cricket again.
Jayasuriya arrived in the southern port city of Karachi on Thursday to lead an International World XI in two exhibition Twenty20 matches against the Pakistan All Stars this weekend. Teammates from South Africa and West Indies, including Andre Nel, Nantie Hayward and Ricardo Powell, also landed.
The matches are organized by provincial sports minister Dr. Mohammad Ali Shah in hope of sending positive signals to the cricketing world. No test-playing team has toured Pakistan since the deadly attack on the Sri Lanka team convoy in 2009 in Lahore.
"It depends on country to country (whether they tour Pakistan) but in my opinion Pakistan is a safe country," said Jayasuriya, who wasn't in the team at the time of the attack.
"The incidents of Lahore were not the best thing to have happened and the suspension of cricket in Pakistan is very unfortunate because the people love the game here."
The Pakistan Cricket Board has freed up contracted players such as Shahid Afridi, Younis Khan and Shoaib Malik to play for the All Stars, but left obligations including security, anti-corruption, marketing and broadcasting to Shah.
Shah has said that around 5,000 policemen will be deployed as security for the teams.
West Indies batsman Powell, who is touring Pakistan for the first time, felt Pakistan should receive international teams.
"I think it's about time that world cricket returns to Pakistan," he said. "Twenty20 is the most exciting form of the game that you have right now and the teams are here to really enjoy themselves."
The International World XI will be coached by former West Indies batsman Alvin Kallicharan, who has come to Pakistan 40 years since his last visit in 1972, when he raised funds for flood victims.
"This time it's another noble cause, promotion of cricket in Pakistan, and I think they (other countries) will have to have a look," Kallicharan said. "Pakistan is a part of world cricket and we are here to show that Pakistan is a place to play cricket."
The PCB has been forced to organize its home matches at neutral venues for the last 3 1/2 years, mainly in the United Arab Emirates.