In the wake of the current political scenario, Pakistan’s participation in the FIH men’s Hockey World Cup 2018 seems to be in jeopardy. Although the World Cup in Odisha is more than a year away, the Pakistan Hockey Federation has demanded that its team get Indian visas on time and guaranteed full security.
Just like cricket, India and Pakistan continue to play in multi-team international tournaments. India beat Pakistan twice in the FIH Hockey League semifinals in London in June and will clash once more in Dhaka during the Asia Cup in October. But Pakistan’s participation in the World Cup is still unclear.
In an interview with Hindustan Times in June this year, PHF secretary-general said how the failure to play a bilateral series has hurt Asian hockey. Both India versus Pakistan matches in June drew full houses in London.
“It pains to see how the climate of politics has hurt sport. Look at the camaraderie between India and Pakistan cricketers. It can be the same in hockey,” said Shahbaz.
Talwinder Singh of India tangles with Muhammad Aleem Bilal and Muhammad Yaqoob of Pakistan during the Hockey World League Semifinal match at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on June 18, 2017 in London. (Getty Images)
The Pakistan Hockey Federation president Khalid Khokar on Friday threatened not to send its national team to India next year without assurance of foolproof security and easy procurement of visas, reports PTI.
The PHF president told the media that during recent meetings with FIH president Narinder Batra in Dubai, he had made it clear that Pakistan team should be guaranteed top security during the World Cup in India.
“We had a very good meeting as we conveyed all our concerns to Batra and other FIH member boards. I have made it clear to them that we want assurances from FIH that we will face no problems with procurement of visa and will be given top security during the event,” Khokar claimed to have told Batra .
It is not clear how much say Batra, who is also chief of Hockey India, will have in convincing the Indian government to give visas to the Pakistan team.
Indian players wore black arm-bands during their Hockey World League semifinal match against pakistan in London on June 18, 2017. (Frank Uijlenbroek)
Interestingly, on June 18, when India clashed with Pakistan in London, the Manpreet Singh-led team against attack on Indian soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir.
India’s black armband protest did not go down well with the international teams and for comments made on India-Pakistan relationship on social media.
In recent times, the Indian high commission in Islamabad has refused visas to the Pakistan team for the junior World Cup. PHF sees another repeat next year.