After All India Tennis Association (AITA) has kept postponing their Davis Cup tie against Pakistan repeatedly, a frustrated Pakistan Tennis Federation has called for a ban on all future ties. After the initial announcement, AITA has now been contemplating a second string to Pakistan for the tie.
It was back in February that the Davis Cup tie was made, which was scheduled to be held n September at the Pakistan Sports Complex in Islamabad. However, after initially announcing a strong squad for the tie, AITA has taken a backseat following the Indian government’s decision to abrogate Article 370 in August.
Political tensions between the neighbouring countries have risen with the AITA now unwilling to travel to Pakistan for the zonal tie. They even wrote to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) asking for a shift to a neutral venue with the international federation further postponing the fixture to November 29-30 without a change in venue.
However, AITA requested for the same on Monday this week and it has seemingly tested the patience of PTF, who are more than happy to give extra security for the visitors. “It’s a two-day tie, and I don’t think heavens are going to fall if five-six Indian players come to Islamabad. This was expected though. We knew that India never had any intention of coming here,” said PTF President Salim Saifullah Khan, reported The Indian Express.
“In Islamabad, there is no safety issue. They are our guests here, we are the hosts. We’ve guaranteed, and the (Pakistan) government has guaranteed (the Indians’ safety). Our high commission is ready to give them visas as well. Nothing happened in the middle of September. They could have come, played and gone by now. It’s mixing politics and sports, which is unfortunate. If they are not coming, why should we go to India (in the future)? Let’s just put a ban on India-Pakistan ties instead of wasting the ITF’s time,” Khan added.
The Indian team, led by non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi, initially had the likes of their no.1 singles player Prajnesh Gunneswaran and doubles star Divij Sharan. However, both of them have pulled out of the tie now, citing personal reasons.
Khan cited names like that of British royal couple Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, who have been in Pakistan as of now, apart from the Sri Lankan cricket team who recently competed in T20 and ODI series in Karachi and Lahore.
“Besides that, over 30 players of 15 different countries are in Islamabad these days for the back-to-back ITF Junior international events. “Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) has been hosting international events on a regular basis for the last so many years and are ready to repeat that this season. All of these activities coerce me to point out that AITA stance is self-conceived and premeditated. If international players and celebrities find it safe to travel to Pakistan, why not Indian team?” asked Khan.