Pakistan is safe, Geoff Lawson tells Australians


Sydney : Former Australia fast bowler turned Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson has expressed disappointment over ill-informed comments on the situation in Pakistan and personally assured the Australian cricketers and officials that they’ll be safe in the country.

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Lawson is hoping that Australia’s trip to the troubled country in March can still go ahead despite the unrest in Pakistan after last week’s assassination of opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

An Australian security delegation is due to visit Pakistan in February before taking a decision on the tour, but Lawson Wednesday said he’d be happy to talk with all concerned parties and relay his comfort with life on the sub-continent.

“In all the time I have been there I have had zero concern for my safety. Zero. You just go about your job, do what you do,” Lawson said.

“If Cricket Australia (CA) wants to get my opinion – and it would only be an opinion – I have a unique position so I probably have some insight they don’t have.

“They can seek me out if they want to.”

Lawson, who is in Australia on a break until Jan 15, said he was disappointed to hear Australian players pre-empting the CA investigation and declaring they don’t want to tour Pakistan.

“It’s uninformed comment,” Lawson said. “You don’t read the front page of a newspaper and make a decision.”

Asked if he would talk with them at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) – where he is commentating for the ABC – Lawson said: “If I see them before I go, and they want to ask me, yeah, that’s fine.”

Having spoken to high-ranking Pakistan administrators, Lawson said he was confident the turmoil was fast settling down and said delaying the elections was sensible.

“The problem here is you have to wait and see, but prima facie you think (the unrest) is not going to affect cricket,” Lawson said.

“It happens around the country a fair bit, but it doesn’t happen at sporting venues. I don’t walk around Lahore looking over my shoulder, it’s a normal life.”

Lawson said the turmoil shown on TV and in the media was not a fair reflection of everyday existence in Pakistan, and that the recent rioting and unrest was not a danger to Australia’s cricketers because it was politically targeted.

“When Bhutto arrived back in the country and a bomb went off in Karachi, South Africa didn’t want to play in Karachi,” Lawson said.

“This was an attempted political assassination, it had nothing to do with general life, general terrorism so that was an over-reaction at the time, I felt.”

Australia’s tour remains doubtful, however, after the delay of the elections, which may see unrest flare up less than four weeks before the start of the tour.