“You will understand why we are not in a position to give further information as to the nature of the intelligence, other than to say, it was a direct threat, and it was a credible threat,” Ms. Ardern was quoted as saying Sunday.
Officials in Pakistan said they had not received a threat and asked their New Zealand counterparts for more information. A former spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, or T.T.P., a banned terrorist group, said in a Facebook post before the scheduled New Zealand game that the team may have been targeted by a different group.
“As far as I know a global jihadi organization (IS) is looking for a big target in Pakistan,” said Ehsanullah Ehsan, citing the Islamic State terrorist group. It was not clear whether Mr. Ehsan had knowledge of any planned attack, and his Facebook account was deleted shortly after.
The tour cancellations have been met with widespread anger and disappointment in Pakistan. “We were all very excited and looking forward to watch the match in the stadium,” said Nawab Ahmed Alam, 41, who runs a cricket club in Islamabad, adding that he had bought a ticket to watch the first match between Pakistan and New Zealand. “But now with the tours called off, cricket fans feel that Pakistan has been taken back 10 years.”
The cancellations are especially frustrating to locals because teams from other countries, like Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and South Africa, had begun visiting in 2015, raising hopes that things could return to normal.
“It’s very unfortunate because the spectators and fans want to see their cricket heroes play in front of them, on the home soil against foreign teams,” Mr. Alam said. “The thrill and enjoyment has been denied to the fans.”
Pakistani officials have claimed that the country’s security has vastly improved after a series of crackdowns against militant groups, particularly the Pakistani Taliban, which launched a bloody campaign of terrorist attacks from 2007 to 2014.