People across Pakistan have been taken aback by the New Zealand cricket team's abrupt cancellation of its tour of Pakistan. The Kiwis pulled out over security concerns mere minutes before the first match was due to start at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. Many people took to the internet to voice their anger, as did several celebrities.
The Pakistan Cricket Board said that New Zealand Cricket (NZC) informed the board about "some security alert" and unilaterally decided to postpone the series. The NZC said Pakistan had been “wonderful hosts” but added that player safety was “paramount”.
Many public figures, politicians and cricket enthusiasts pondered over the security threat cited by the NZ team and couldn't understand what it was. Cricketer Shahid Afridi called the threat a "hoax" on Twitter. "On a hoax threat you have called-off the tour despite all assurances!! Black Caps do you understand the impact of your decision?" he asked.
Singer Yasir Jaswal wondered whether there was more to the decision behind the exit than actual security concerns. "The Black Caps embarrassed themselves. Also there has to be more to this, what do you guys think?" he asked his followers on Instagram Stories.
Pakistani singer and TV show host Fakhre Alam said as "a Pakistani citizen" he wants to know about "the credible threat that the Black Caps found". "It is only fair to share that intelligence with the Government of Pakistan so that if there is a real threat it can be neutralised immediately and lives are protected," he tweeted.
Oscar-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy said the withdrawal "makes no sense whatsoever". "New Zealand security team had given clearance and spent almost a month here," she wrote on Instagram Stories. "Pakistani security has been excellent."
Others expressed sadness at the sudden exist and offered support to aggrieved followers. VJ Anoushey Ashraf posted a message consoling cricket fans. "I am so sorry to the disappointed Pakistanis across the world after New Zealand's sudden withdrawal from the game," she said. The VJ also gave a "shout out" to PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan and shared a post about his emotional response to the turn of events.
Singer Asim Azhar consoled his followers. "It's sad but it's okay," he tweeted. "We’re a nation used to bouncing back. Pakistan is safe and always will be. We’ll still open heartedly welcome New Zealand or any other nation that thinks otherwise because that's who we are. P.S beware of a cornered Pakistan, world. See you at the Cricket T20 World Cup!"
Director Nabeel Qureshi called the withdrawal "devastating news" on Instagram.
Actor Zarnish Khan posted on Instagram Stories and said it was "quite disappointing to see how things turned out" and added the issue could have been handled "in a much better way without any diplomatic stunts".
It's safe to say that the Kiwi withdrawal has shocked and angered many Pakistanis. Many people are upset at the sudden cancellation, especially since Pakistanis don't get the opportunity to see many international matches played on their home turf.