Yet to break sporting ties with India, says Pakistan minister

December 24th, 2008 - 8:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi, Dec 24 (IANS) Pakistan’s Sports Minister Aftab Shah Jilani has denied that his country has broken sporting ties with India, and said there is still some confusion on the issue.Jilani told reporters Wednesday here at the National Stadium that “status quo remains” on the issue of sending sports teams to India in spite of the strained relations between the two countries over the Mumbai terror strikes.

“We haven’t broken sporting ties with India,” said Jilani, a senior politician from the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

“As far as we are concerned, the status quo remains. In any case the matter is out of our (sports ministry’s) hands and it is up to the foreign ministry to decide whether we can send our sports teams to India in the current circumstances,” he stressed.

Local media reported Wednesday that Pakistan has decided to severe sporting ties with India after they refused to tour Pakistan for a much-awaited cricket series that was to be held in Jan-Feb next year.

Pakistan were to take part in two sporting events - the Asian Junior Squash Championships in Chennai in January and a four-nation double-leg hockey tournament in Chandigarh and Jallandhar in February.

According to media reports, Pakistan would not be sending its teams for any of the events.

“It will be too risky at the moment as the gravity of the situation does not allow us to send our sports teams there,” Pakistan Sports secretary Ashraf Khan was quoted as saying.

However, Jilani said nothing was official yet. “We are awaiting instructions from the foreign ministry whether we can send our teams to India,” he said.

Earlier this month, Jilani said he was not in the favour of cutting sporting ties with India and urged the Indian government not to block its cricket team’s tour of Pakistan.

However, India decided against going ahead with the cricket series in the wake of last month’s terror attacks in Mumbai.

Jilani said his ministry was under tremendous pressure from various quarters to break sporting ties with India. “India’s decision to cancel its cricket tour (of Pakistan) has ignited a strong reaction from the public, the players and officials,” he said.

“They now want Pakistan to do the same and decide against sending our sportsmen to India. But a final decision will only be taken by the higher authorities.”

Meanwhile, a senior Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) official has said that the country’s top junior players will continue training for the Asian Junior Squash Championships in Chennai where they are to defend their team and individual titles.

“We have applied for a No-Objection Certificate to send our team to India and will wait for a reply from the authorities. Till then we will continue training our boys for the tournament,” said PSF secretary Shams-ul-Haq.

The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) also has made it clear that it would decide about the fate of the national team’s tour of India on the basis of the guidelines coming from the government.

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