For the first time in six years, Pakistan won’t play in the world cup of Punjab’s circle-style kabaddi.
Concern for the team’s security compels the organising committee to drop the six-time runners-up. The border situation is tense since the Uri terror attack and India’s reply with surgical strikes in Pakistan.
“The invites to men’s and women’s teams go out three months before the event, as the scrutiny process is lengthy. We sent the invite to Pakistan, too, but now we must withdraw it,” committee’s senior vice-president Sikander Singh Maluka said in Ludhiana on Friday.
Of all teams, Pakistan goes through toughest visa screening, for the squad carries policemen and military personnel. The decision to keep it out of the 2016 edition of World Cup Kabaddi (WCK) came after organising committee president and Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal consulted the other stakeholders this week.
“Passions are running high in the country,” Punjab sports promoter Teja Singh Dhaliwal said. “The atmosphere is not right for Pakistan to visit India. If any harm comes to them, whom do we question? Not good for the sport but the situation deteriorated suddenly and it demands caution.”
Maluka also reviewed the preparations for the world cup now reduced to 13 men’s teams and 10 women’s squads. It will be organised from November 3 to 17 across 14 venues in the state. Total prize money is Rs 7 crore. African countries Tanzania, Kenya and Sierra Leone are new competitors.