In 2009 an attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore drove international cricket from the country entirely, and their fixtures have been played in the United Arab Emirates.
But security has improved dramatically in recent years, and since 2015 Pakistan has hosted Zimbabwe, a World XI, Sri Lanka, the finals of its domestic T20 league for two years running and, most recently, the West Indies, for a short T20 series which finished on Tuesday.
Pakistan’s interior minister has invited the England cricket team to tour the country for the first time since 2005.
A visit by a major Test-playing nation such as England would be hugely significant, in terms of both cricket as well as Pakistan’s wider security and the message it hopes to send about its crackdown on extremism and militancy.
Interior minister Ahsan Iqbal extended the invitation to UK High Comissioner Thomas Drew on Tuesday, urging the international community to recognise the strides Pakistan has made.
“The successful staging of international matches in Pakistan is a clear proof that we have defeated terrorism and extremism,” he said, according to an official statement.
Drew said he was already looking forward to “this summer’s big cricketing event”, Pakistan’s upcoming England tour.
“But I also hope that it will not be long before I can welcome an England team to Pakistan,” he told AFP Wednesday. “That really is something to look forward to.”
While Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed urged the world to change its perception about playing international cricket in the country after a highly successful T20I series against West Indies in Karachi.
No excuse left for teams not to tour Pakistan now, said Sarfraz