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Pak likely to pull out from sporting events in India

In what can be seen as a tit-for-tat response, Pakistan is likely to pull out from upcoming sporting events in India, who last week called off its cricket team's tour across the border following the Mumbai terror attacks.

india Updated: Dec 24, 2008 18:55 IST

In what can be seen as a tit-for-tat response, Pakistan is likely to pull out from upcoming sporting events in India, who last week called off its cricket team's tour across the border following the Mumbai terror attacks.

Statements by Pakistan's Sports Minister Pir Aftab Shah Jillani and Federal Secretary of Sports Ashraf Khan expressing serious doubts over their national teams' tour to India in the current political scenario has raised speculation of a freeze in sporting ties between the two countries.

They said that sensing the volatile situation, it is highly unlikely that the governement would allow sportspersons to visit India for international events.

Pakistan is scheduled to take part in a four-nation hockey series to be played in Chandigarh and Jalandhar next February after its squash team has a chance to defend Asian junior title in Chennai on January 16.

"There is pressure on the government from different quarters not to allow our teams to go to India. There is also a feeling our teams will face security threats in India in the existing tense conditions," the Sports Minister said.

Jillani said the Sports Ministry had sought advice from the foreign office on the matter.
"In the existing situation, the Sports Ministry is not the competent authority to take a decision. We are keeping all our options open but the indications are it might not be possible to send our teams to India until things improve," he said.

The Sports Minister also criticised India for mixing sports with politics.

"That decision has not helped improve relations and even we now have to keep all options open as our first priority is to ensure security of our players in India," he said.
"The hockey federation has sought our clearance but the squash federation has not come forward with any application. If it is not in national interest we will not allow the hockey and squash teams to go to India," he added.

Earlier in the day, Federal Secretary of Sports, Ashraf was quoted saying by the media that the present situation between the two neighbours was not conducive to continue with sporting ties.

"Allowing our squash and hockey players to leave for India will be too risky at the moment as the gravity of the situation does not allow us to send our sports teams there," Ashraf was quoted as saying in the 'Dawn'.

Asked if security was a concern or it was a tit-for-tat response, Ashraf admitted that it was in reply to India scrapping its tour of Pakistan.

"The situation is so hot that I don't think it will be advisable for Pakistan team to tour India, particularly when Indians have refused to come to Pakistan. So, we have to look at that but yes, we have not taken final decision," he told a television channel.