The water is still not under the bridge between the two nuclear South Asian countries- India and Pakistan. They still continue to take a dig at each other and make the headlines. And this time it’s about the soon to be held mega event in India. This comes a week after the newly appointed International Hockey Federation (FIH) President Narinder Batra confirmed Pakistan’s participation, the global body said they had ‘withdrawn Pakistan’s invitation’ to the Junior World Cup which begins in Lucknow from next week.
On Monday, International Hockey Federation (FIH) rejected Pakistan team’s participation in Men’s Hockey Junior World Cup 2016, which will take place in India from 8th to 18th December 2016. They cited Pakistan Hockey Federation’s (PHF) inability to meet the cut off dates as the main reason even though the green shirts had formally qualified. FIH invited Malaysian junior men’s team to take part in the event as Pakistan’s substitute.
The world body blamed Pakistan Hockey Federation for failing to submit VISA applications for the Pakistani delegation before the deadline and its inability to affirm the delegation’s accommodation ahead of the closing date.
According to Hindustan Times report the FIH release stated, “FIH regrets that Pakistan’s men’s junior team will not be able to take part in this year’s Uttar Pradesh Hockey Junior World Cup even though they had officially qualified,” further adding, “FIH’s decision follows considerable discussions with the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) and requests for confirmation that they had the necessary arrangements in place to be able to participate in the event.”
The release further stated that the FIH had to take this decision in view of substantial contractual obligations to its partners to deliver a full number of matches at the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh Hockey Junior World Cup – Men and a late withdrawal by Pakistan would have left FIH insufficient time to look for a replacement.
Interestingly, on the other hand PHF’s executive secretary Zain Aman told The Indian Express on Monday hours before the FIH decision that the team’s itinerary had been finalized. He said, “We have applied for the visas long back and are in touch with the Indian embassy. As soon as we receive our visas, the team will leave for India.” He was unavailable for comment later.
The Times of India reported that a reliable PHF source had expressed genuine concerns regarding the clearance on playing in India. The source said, “The PHF officials were anxious about getting the NOC to send its team to India next month as the FIH event is scheduled from December 8 to 18th and it is an important event for the future of Pakistan hockey. But now the ministry has informed the PHF that the government has given the clearance.”
Terming the move as ‘pre-planned’ PHF Secretary Shehbaz Ahmed while speaking to DawnNews said, “Pakistan didn’t extend any time table legal responsibility and it’s all India’s fault not to factor visa to Pakistan’s delegation prior to closing date. Our executive had well timed issued No Objection Certificate (NOCs) for gamers to participate in the event, however it’s unhappy that Pakistan will be unable to participate in Junior Hockey World Cup.”
He further added, “We had deliberate coaching camps for our gamers so how are we able to prolong any time table to jeopardize our participation.” The team is under the supervision of Olympian Tahir Zaman.
On November 16th PHF expressed qualms about India’s undue control in the event and efforts to sideline Pakistan and also calling the shots in the World Hockey Tournament.
“I had already seen it coming that this decision by FIH is going to go against Pakistan,” Shehbaz added later.
The organizing Secretary and Uttar Pradesh Hockey Secretary RP Singh told HT, “For us, Pakistan too was welcomed like others. For this sudden development, PHF as well as the FIH are the better authorities to tell you the actual reasons behind this,” .
There will certainly be a drop in the number of fans with the withdrawal of Pakistan team in such a mega event happening in India for the second time after New Delhi hosting it in 2013.