HARARE - Zimbabwe cricket authorities Thursday abandoned a planned tour to Pakistan citing poor security -- before retracting their decision within 20 minutes and saying discussions were still ongoing.

Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) released an official statement saying the tour would not go ahead following recent militant violence that has revived fears after a deadly attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009. But ZC spokesman Lovemore Banda then issued a rapid apology, saying the abandonment was not confirmed. "The executive and the board are in a meeting right now and we are waiting for their decision," Banda told AFP, without explaining the earlier statement.

The tour would be the first by a Test-playing nation since militants attacked the Sri Lankan bus in Lahore, killing six Pakistani policemen and two civilians and injuring six Sri Lankan players. Zimbabwe are due to arrive on May 19 and play two Twenty20 internationals and three one-day internationals. All five matches would be played in Lahore after Zimbabwe refused to play in Karachi.

Zimbabwe Cricket said in its first statement: "The decision not to tour at this time has been taken after considering the advice from the country's supreme sports regulatory authority, the Sports and Recreational Commission (SRC)."

SRC director Charles Nhemachena told AFP: "We declined to clear the tour on account of the security risk. We were not happy with the current security situation in Pakistan which we felt will expose our cricket players and officials to risk."

Meanwhile, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan said a final decision was expected today (Friday). "I have talked to the ZC chairman Wilson Manase. They are keen to come and I am hopeful that the ZC will convince their authorities as we have promised to put in place 100 percent security."

Shaharyar said it would be a huge disappointment for Pakistan fans if Zimbabwe pulled out. "It will surely be a big setback for us as there is huge interest. The tickets put on sale are in big demand."

The sources in the PCB said that they were in touch with Zimbabwe Cricket after the attacks in Karachi. "We are in touch with them and they are presently consulting with their government and the security experts who came to Pakistan about the tour," one official source said.

"For the Zimbabwe team's tour, the board is getting full cooperation from the government and they will be provided state level security throughout their stay in Lahore," he added.

The PCB has said that around 2000 policemen would be deployed for the security of the visiting team when they reach Lahore on May 19 to play two T20 matches and three ODIs.

Another source in the PCB said that the situation about Zimbabwe's tour would be clear by today (Friday).

It is pertinent to mention here that the incentives, the PCB had announced for Zimbabwe team and the amount of USD 500,000 are lucrative enough for Zimbabwe authorities to reconsider their decision once again and not deprive their team and players of getting such huge benefits.

On the other hand, the government and the PCB have spent a lot of amount on measures being taken to provide foolproof security to the visiting team. The PCB has also started renovation work of Gaddafi Stadium, so if Zimbabwe team doesn’t visit Pakistan, all the efforts on government and PCB end will go in vain. Now all depends upon Zimbabwe authorities what they decide regarding their team’s tour to the country.