Pullout from Champions Trophy an overreaction: PHF

Criticising Australia's pullout from the upcoming event, the Pakistan Hockey Federation says the pullout is premature.

india Updated: Jul 24, 2007 17:46 IST

Criticising Australia's pullout from the upcoming Champions Trophy in Lahore, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) on Tuesday said the Olympic champions' security fears were unfounded and just an overreaction.

PHF spokesman Altaf Sabir said the Australians' pullout was premature as there was nearly five months' time left for the elite tournament.

"The decision could have been delayed for a while," Sabir said.

Another official said the Australians' withdrawal was unacceptable as no untoward incident had taken place in Lahore.

"Most of the security clashes are in the tribal areas. They have overreacted," he said.

Hockey Australia on Tuesday pulled out of the tournament scheduled to be held in December.

Australia conveyed its decision to PHF via the International Hockey Federation citing security concerns as the primary reason behind their non-participation in the meet.

"It is a very disappointing development for us. We have already informed the FIH that all the participating teams in the tournament would be provided full security," PHF Secretary Khalid Mahmood said.

Australia did not take part in the 2004 edition of the Champions Trophy held in Pakistan citing similar reasons.

Pakistan hockey could be in for more problems as rumours are rife that Spain might also follow Australia in pulling out of the event.

The law and order situation in Pakistan is in focus with an increase in attacks on security forces in some parts of the country.

However, despite the tense situation, Cricket Australia (CA) on Tuesday gave an assurance that they would not follow their hockey counterparts and would send their teams.

CA, which had sent a six-member security delegation on a reconnaissance visit ahead of their 'A' and 'under-19' teams' tours to Pakistan from September 1, said they remain firm on their commitment to play in Pakistan.

"It is our obligation to fulfil our tour obligations," a CA spokesman told the Australian Associated Press on Tuesday.

"We will continue to monitor with the relevant security agencies both in Australia and overseas on the day to day developments in Pakistan," he said.

The spokesman refused to comment on Hockey Australia's decision and said Cricket Australia remained uninfluenced by the turn of events.

"That's why five of our officers were in Pakistan and they were supported by officials of the Australian High Commission."

"We feel we are in possession of good information and the most up-to-date information and right now we plan to fulfil our touring obligations with the Australia 'A' and 'Under-19' teams with a view to Australia touring Pakistan early next year," he said.

First Published: Jul 24, 2007 17:19 IST