New Zealand abandoned its cricket tour of Pakistan on Friday because it was wary of being attacked outside Rawalpindi Stadium, according to the Pakistan government.

New Zealand Cricket declined to reveal the nature of the security alert from its own government that prompted the sudden decision to cancel the tour moments before the scheduled start of the one-day international series in Rawalpindi. Both teams had stayed at their hotel.

According to Pakistan Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan the cricketers could be attacked outside the stadium.

Khan, who is on a government visit to Tajikistan, told Ardern “we have one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team.”

Ahmed said he had no information about a security threat against the New Zealanders, and backed Khan at a news conference.

“He told her that the law and order situation is the best in our country and we give a guarantee that there is no security problem here, there is no security threat,” Ahmed said. “But the prime minister of New Zealand said that the issue is not the threat but we have such information that when the team goes out it can come under some attack, so they have unilaterally cancelled their tour.”

Ardern said she received a phone call from Pakistan’s prime minister in which she explained she agreed with NZC that player safety is paramount.

“When I spoke with the prime minister of Pakistan I conveyed our thanks for taking care of the New Zealand cricket team,” Ardern said. “I know how disappointing it will be for everyone that the game hasn’t gone ahead, but we totally support the decision that’s been made. Player safety has to be paramount.”

The security concern has the Pakistan hosts mystified.

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