Despite reported warning of ‘genuine threats’ by a Pakistani security expert, the Pakistan hockey team made a conspicuous, high profile entry into India, via the Wagah border, for the World Cup on Monday.
Rather than taking the short air trip to the capital, New Delhi, the 18-member squad opted for a seven-eight hour bus journey. When the team stepped out for immigration on the border, team manager Asif Bajwa declared India as a “safe” place for the World Cup, which commences on Februaray 28.
“We are the first to have expressed satisfaction to the security arrangements of the Indian government, of the Delhi Police and of the Indian federation (Hockey India),” Bajwa, who is also the secretary of the Pakistan Hockey Federation, said.
“India is a safe place for the World Cup. Terrorism is a global issue not specific to India and Pakistan. It should be seen in a global perspective,” he said of the terrorist threats.
The team entered the Indian border at around 9:30 in the morning under heavy security cover. Generally, buses coming from Pakistan have two police vehicles deputed along, but on Monday, the Pakistan bus carrying the hockey team was escorted by four police vehicles and around twenty men guarded the squad.
Looking upbeat, Bajwa, said, “We are here to play good hockey and also be the ambassadors of peace from Pakistan. Our president has sent us with a message of peace to India and we all hope that the Government as well as people here in India also reciprocate in the similar manner.”
Led by Zeshan Ashraf, Pakistan open their campaign against India on the first day of the World Cup.