India-Pakistan tensions: From wrestling to hockey, sporting ties freeze over

According to Sports Minister Vijay Goel, the Indian government has decided to halt sporting relations between the two countries.

Written by Mihir Vasavda | New Delhi | Updated: May 4, 2017 8:58 am
Pakistani high commissioner Abdul Basit coming out from external affairs ministry in New Delhi on Wednesday.( Express photo by Anil Sharma)

THE MOUNTING tension between India and Pakistan, following the beheading of two Indian soldiers by a Pakistani border team on the LoC, has cast a shadow over sporting ties between the two countries. And this time, it’s not confined to high-profile cricket matches. On Tuesday, Pakistan alleged that their wrestlers were not granted visas for next week’s 22-nation Asian Championship in Delhi. On Wednesday, Pakistan Hockey Federation secretary Shahbaz Ahmed claimed that they were excluded from the ongoing Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia because of India’s pressure. According to Sports Minister Vijay Goel, the Indian government has decided to halt sporting relations between the two countries. “Terrorism and sports can’t go along together. The sporting relations between India and Pakistan can be cordial only after Pakistan stops sponsoring cross-border terrorism. India takes these things very seriously,” Goel said.

“We are not at a loss. Our decision to stop bilateral sporting ties with Pakistan will force Pakistani people to put pressure on their government to act against terrorism. The entire world knows that Pakistan is sponsoring terrorism,” he said. Goel said he was aware of the Indian High Commission’s decision to deny Pakistani wrestlers visas for the Asian Championships even though officials of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) said they were unaware of any such move. A WFI official said they had informed the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs and Intelligence Bureau about Pakistan’s participation and were willing to take responsibility for the four-member contingent. “We had conveyed the same to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad on Tuesday and even sent a sponsorship letter. If their visa is denied, they might not have completed paperwork from their end,” the official said.

Pakistan Wrestling Federation secretary Muhammad Arshad was quoted as saying by The Dawn that they had applied for visas 45 days ago. He said they would lodge a complaint with United World Wrestling, the world body, demanding that India be stripped of its right to host international events unless it guarantees visas to all participants. It’s a line other Pakistan federations are beginning to take as well. Pakistan hockey official Ahmed said the International Hockey Federation (FIH), too, should consider hosting global events at a neutral venue. India is scheduled to host the World League final this year and the 2018 World Cup. Both events will be held in Bhubaneswar.

”If Pakistan qualifies for these events, we expect that the FIH will ensure our participation. I don’t see any problem in that happening but to avoid complications and government interference, the FIH should host international tournaments outside India to ensure all countries can participate,” Ahmed told The Indian Express. The FIH is headed by former Hockey India president Narinder Batra. The Indian federation had taken a tough stand against bilateral relations with Pakistan after the 2014 Champions Trophy in Bhubaneswar, where Pakistani players taunted the crowd after beating India in the semifinals.

Ahmed said Pakistan were not invited for the Azlan Shah Cup because of India. “We have been playing that tournament for the last 23 years so it was shocking that we weren’t invited this time. We have stood by Malaysia all through, so we can’t think of any reason why they did not invite us. It might be because India did not want us,” Ahmed said. India has, meanwhile, pulled out of next month’s Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia because of Pakistan’s presence. Over the recent months, visas have being denied to Pakistani sportsmen for international meets in other sports, too, such as kabaddi and squash.

In June, India and Pakistan are scheduled to face each other in cricket’s Champions Trophy and in the World Hockey League, both in England. Goel said the government cannot stop teams from playing in an international tournament at a neutral venue. ”We have the power to take a decision regarding bilateral ties. But we can’t avoid playing them in important international events that take place in other countries,” Goel said.

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  1. S
    Sardul Singh
    Jul 19, 2017 at 3:29 am
    Lazy journalists have fallen victim to Wikipedia hoax. Rest in peace Dara Singh you were a good entertainer. P.S. The aim of some foreigners (mainly Jewish) is to create havoc even in legitimate sports. India today has many genuine world class wrestlers mainly due to the effort of Guru and Guru Satpal. Let us not mess up our sports by doing publicity for entertainers. No doubt Dara was strong and a good man but he was not a genuine wrestler.
    Reply
    1. S
      Sardul Singh
      Jul 19, 2017 at 3:25 am
      All his claims of fighting in foreign countries and winning were found false advertising or were found wrestling shows and not real fights. Rustam-e-Punjab, Rustam-e-Hind and Rustom-e-Zaman were the les he bestowed upon himself. His biography at Wikipedia seems to be a work of his publicity manager. Google and check for yourself Commonwealth Wrestling Championship and World Wrestling Champion do not list him even as a compe or let alone as a champion. My comments are not meant to disrespect Dara Singh but to put things in right perspective. Amir Khan is a good actor and a high class entertainer. But if someone starts writing his biography and adds that in addition to being an actor he was an undefeated tennis champion who won Wimbledon and French Open les, it would be a fraud. Dara Singh provided thrill and entertainment to thousands of Indians and that’s how he should be remembered.
      Reply
      1. S
        Sardul Singh
        Jul 19, 2017 at 3:21 am
        Dara Singh was neither Rustam-e-Punjab nor Rustam-e-Hind. He started as a liftman in Hong Kong. Someone suggested he take up street fights to supplement his income. In 1950s street wrestling was popular in Hong Kong. He did not make much money there and returned to India. He had promoted himself in Hong Kong as Rustom e Hind. Back home he did well to publicize himself. Long before the USA television made fake WWF wrestling matches famous, Dara Singh had embarked on this path. He would invite film stars to his choreographed fights and publish the photos. This publicity led to more fights and also landed him film roles. He made a small fortune working in C grade hit movies. His wrestling career ended when Khushwant Sigh exposed his fake fights in Illustrated Weekly of India.
        Reply
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          Sardul Singh
          Jul 19, 2017 at 3:19 am
          India should push genuine sports like wrestling. Today we have a great coach as Satpal on wrestling. All types of fake sportsman are moving all over and propped up to destroy the fabric of sport. An article on Dara Singh. A good man but not a wrestler but an entertainer. Dara Singh was neither Rustam-e-Punjab nor Rustam-e-Hind. He started as a liftman in Hong Kong. Someone suggested he take up street fights to supplement his income. In 1950s street wrestling was popular in Hong Kong. He did not make much money there and returned to India. He had promoted himself in Hong Kong as Rustom e Hind. Back home he did well to publicize himself. Long before the USA television made fake WWF wrestling matches famous, Dara Singh had embarked on this path. He would invite film stars to his choreographed fights and publish the photos. This publicity led to more fights and also landed him film roles. He made a small fortune working in C grade hit movies.
          Reply
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              Ajit Paldhe
              May 4, 2017 at 8:46 pm
              Pak has exporting terror since 1982 by supporting Khalistan. From 1987 it is responsible for major terror attacks across India Pak terrorist drive away pandits from Valley. India shares have stopped all sporting engagements with Pak. It was only Shiv sena suprimo Balasaheb Thakarey opposed Pak team in India Unfortunately,Indians were sufferin from pakphilia Cricket was more important than lives of victims Pak used BCCI and Indians blind love for cricket to lower Indian resolve to fight terror Unfortunately now it is too late Army and paramilitary forces are completely demoralised They are facing stones pelters on one hand and BAT on border Just imagin psychology of petrol team Or Armymen getting killed as they cannot effectively deal with stone pelters Situation in Kashmiri can be salvaged only if India is ready to ruthlessly crush it without bothering world opinion and pro azadi elements in JNU Otherwise,plan launched by Gen Zia in 1987 will achieve its goal sooner than later
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                  Kamal Pasha
                  May 4, 2017 at 1:09 pm
                  BJP government of Modi is foo people of India with fake news against stan and Muslims around the world to stay in power. Modi has done nothing for the poor of India except big speeches. By Indians he is called FEKU (Lier)
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