Pakistan fears bomb put foreign cricketers off Lahore final

FILE -- In this Monday, April 11, 2016 file photo, Pakistan's former cricketer turned politician talks to reporters in Islamabad, Pakistan. Khan said that "I wanted the whole Pakistan Super League in Pakistan, not only just the final," "But the problem is that when terrorism happens, it gets highlighted more, and foreigners get scared." (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash,file)

ISLAMABAD (AP) Pakistan cricket fans fear foreign players will avoid competing in the Pakistan Super League final in Lahore after a suicide bomber killed 13 people there on Monday.

The five-team PSL began last week in the United Arab Emirates, and the final on March 5 is set for Lahore.

The Pakistan Cricket Board wanted to prove how safe Lahore is since a terrorist attack in 2009 against the Sri Lanka team put off all major international teams, and last week it guaranteed ”foolproof security” for the PSL finalists.

But a bomber targeting police escorting a rally by pharmacists likely ruined those hopes.

”I wanted the whole PSL in Pakistan, not only just the final,” cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan said in Lahore on Tuesday.

”But the problem is that when terrorism happens, it gets highlighted more, and foreigners get scared.”

In a statement, Pakistani army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa said the ”army will extend full support to all concerned” to organize the PSL final in Lahore as planned.

Before the bombing, PSL chairman Najam Sethi was confident a large number of foreign players would appear in the final.

”Obviously, people will be more wary and scared – they were already and now will be more,” Sethi said late Monday.

”Now I will have to start all over again. I cannot say that we will be successful or not because (the players) have families, they will have their associations which will guide them.”

Sethi said he now wants to poll the Pakistan public, and let them decide whether they want to see the final in Lahore – most likely without foreign players – or Dubai again probably with overseas players.

Sethi said he still wanted Lahore to host the final, with or without foreign players.

”I want cricket lovers to tell me … what do they want? Whatever they want, we will do,” Sethi said.

Last month, the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association warned foreign players not to travel to Pakistan.