Indian broadcaster pulls out of PSL 2019 contract after Pulwama attack

IMG Reliance said it had decided to stop broadcasting PSL matches, currently being held in the UAE, as a mark of protest against last week's deadly Kashmir attack

Group matches of Season 4 of the Pakistan Super League are currently being played in the UAE. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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The Pakistan Cricket Board has confirmed that Indian broadcaster IMG Reliance has withdrawn from its contract to produce coverage of the Pakistan Super League following the deadly Kashmir attack last week.

The company was televising Season 4 of the PSL, with the matches currently being held in the UAE, as well as the knockout games and final when matches return to Karachi and Lahore next month.

Television channel D-Sport has also suspended the Twenty20 league's coverage in India.

Last week's suicide bombing in Pulwama, which was claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group, claimed the lives of 44 Indian soldiers and was the deadliest attack in a 30-year-old armed conflict in the disputed region.

The company said it had decided to stop broadcasting PSL matches as a mark of protest against the attack.

"IMG Reliance has decided to stop the production of PSL with immediate effect and the PCB has been informed," an IMG Reliance official told Indo-Asian News Service.

"IMG Reliance is of the belief that after such terror attacks it can't operate its commercial activities in Pakistan," he said.

The PCB expressed "extreme disappointment" with the outcome on its website, and said an announcement of the new live broadcasters of the tournament would be made on Monday.

"The PCB always had a contingency plan in place, and we are confident we will be in a position to announce the new partner," PCB's managing director Wasim Khan said in a statement.

"The PCB has also noted the recent turn of events and expresses its extreme disappointment as we have always believed and emphasised that sports and politics should be kept separate," he added.

The PCB said it will take up the matter with the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the International Cricket Council at a scheduled meeting in Dubai later this month.

India has stalled all bilateral cricketing ties with Pakistan since attacks on Mumbai in 2008 which was blamed on militants based across the border.

But the nations have continued to face each other at international tournaments and are scheduled to play in the World Cup in England on June 16 this year.

However, several fans and a Mumbai cricket official have asked India to boycott their World Cup match against Pakistan in Manchester.

Cricket Club of India, an affiliated BCCI unit, has covered a portrait of former Pakistan captain and the country's current Prime Minister Imran Khan in its Mumbai office, while the Punjab Cricket Association has removed photographs of Pakistani cricketers inside Mohali stadium to "show solidarity with the nation", according to local media.

The PCB called the actions of the broadcasters and the two Indian cricket clubs "highly regrettable".