The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ministry’s IPS coordinator likely

Calcutta, Jan. 31: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has scripted a first by including a very senior IPS officer, Yashovardhan Azad, in its recce delegation to Pakistan.

No such previous visits by the BCCI, anywhere, included a government representative. Specifically, Azad is the home ministry’s nominee and heads for Pakistan in a few days.

Well, come the first week of March and even the home ministry could set a precedent by assigning an officer to accompany Team India as security coordinator on a trip featuring one warm-up game, three Tests and five ODIs.

In fact, well-placed sources of The Telegraph believe that is a “distinct possibility.” The last full tour by India was almost 15 years ago.

“Being an expert, Azad will review arrangements with the finest of tooth combs, but it is going to make sense for the team itself to be accompanied by somebody from the IPS,” is how one source put it.

It’s unlikely that Azad (who heads the home ministry’s elite Security Division) will himself make another trip and, so, the coordinator probably won’t be somebody that senior.

Incidentally, the forthcoming visit is going to be Azad’s second to Pakistan in a matter of weeks. Recently, he was in Islamabad overseeing arrangements prior to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s trip for the Saarc summit.

If a coordinator’s appointment does materialise, it will be going a step further than what Australia and England have been doing in these parts.

For example, the world champions were accompanied by an ex-police officer on the last two tours to India; England had a couple of security personnel (drawn from a private agency) on the 2001-2002 visits.

Meanwhile, everybody has been talking of possible “reservations” over Karachi and Peshawar, but one learns Multan is also under the scanner.

Indications are that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is keen to host matches at all three centres.

According to an agency report from Islamabad, the PCB and the concerned agencies have begun “security drills” at the proposed venues.

A two-member committee, which includes an army officer, has been formed to coordinate activities.

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