Dubai:Pakistan's top cricket officials and players on Saturday slammed the decision by the sport's world governing body to strip their country of its 2011 World Cup matches, saying the decision was "unjust."
"I am hugely disappointed," said Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam, who is in Dubai for the limited overs series against Australia starting on Wednesday.
"Pakistan has been singled out for security, which is unjust and has hit our cricket with a big, big blow which will be hard to overcome for years," Alam told AFP.
A meeting of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) executive board Friday stripped Pakistan of its 16 matches in the 2011 World Cup after noting the country's "uncertain political situation" and growing security concerns.
Doubts about Pakistan hosting World Cup matches intensified after the terror attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus, in Lahore on March 3. Eight people were killed, with seven Sri Lankan players and their assistant coach wounded.
The 2011 World Cup had been awarded to Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, but after Friday's decision the tournament will be played only in the latter three countries.
In Pakistan, Salim Altaf, the Pakistan Cricket Board's (PCB) chief operating officer, said the board was "devastated" by the ICC's decision.
The PCB had presented the ICC with a comprehensive security plan for the 2011 World Cup which had nevertheless failed to reassure the ICC board.
"It's disappointing to lose the hosting rights of the World Cup, we are devastated," said Altaf.
Pakistan's Sports Minister Pir Aftab Shah Jilani blamed the PCB for poor planning.
"They (PCB) have taken a security plan for the World Cup 2011 but did not take the interior ministry or sports ministry into their confidence," said Jilani. "This is a sad decision for the sport in our country."
Alam said the ICC's decision was unfair, as security in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh was also "not good" and that Pakistan's own security could still improve.
Even before the March attacks on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore, foreign teams had turned down tours to Pakistan, which is fighting an insurgency waged by Islamic militants, including Al-Qaeda.
Nevertheless, Alam said, the ICC had made "a hasty decision because the World Cup is still two years away and things are getting better in Pakistan... They should have waited for a few months."
Alam, a former Pakistan captain, said the ICC's decision had upset his players.
"When the players got to know about it, they were shocked. They are sad to play their cricket away from their home, away from their fans and now they will have to play their World Cup matches elsewhere."
Pakistan captain Younus Khan also expressed "great disappointment" about the World Cup decision, but refused any further comment.
PCB director general Javed Miandad, a former captain, said he was deeply hurt by a sudden decision.
"No one was thinking that the ICC will take such a decision now. We still have two years to go to the World Cup. I think the ICC should have waited before deciding to strip Pakistan" of its World Cup matches.
However, former PCB chairman Tauqir Zia said the decision was justified.
Zia said the ICC needed time to plan the 2011 tournament and that Pakistan "must improve our security before thinking of any international sport."