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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      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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        1. K
          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)
          1. S
            May 4, 2017 at 11:27 am
            The govt only talks. We feel ashamed that our nation is so weak. Nothing has changed in last 3 yrs except the populist talk. Farmers death, Jobs, Foreign policy, corruption....nothing changed. Our faith in this Govt is shaking. No Kashmir policy, No China Policy , No Pak Policy , No development Policy......if congress did nothing, you too dont seem to be doing anything. Everything right from the pencil my child uses to my laptop to the utensils my wife uses are all Chinese. Are we promoting Make in China. PM' s talk seems very hollow now. He has to know the silent man of India is not blind and dumb.
            1. I
              indian man
              May 4, 2017 at 10:10 am
              Is this the only option available to Indian government. Our government making Indian people fool. After few days when things get normal sports will resume with Pakstn. What about people and soldiers who killed. This is not any action but an act of cowardliness. India is turning into a weakest nation.
              1. R
                RAKESH KUMAR
                May 4, 2017 at 10:09 am
                No Mr goel all go to including us got are confused lot so far relation with Pak. This approach makes India a laughing lot in the eyes of the world community. For God sake stop all relations at every level with Pam as if it is your permanent enemy which it is and treat that country accordingly.
                1. H
                  May 4, 2017 at 9:02 am
                  Good decision. No sports , cultural ties till Porkistan stops terror.
                  1. S
                    May 4, 2017 at 11:30 am
                    How many times this decision has been taken in past. We cant change our stance every weekend. Only foo people. No fixed policy. Raat i baat i. Log bhul jayenge.
                  2. N
                    May 4, 2017 at 8:21 am
                    Why is there no noise by the congress and commiies
                    1. N
                      May 4, 2017 at 8:19 am
                      What does that girl Kaur who said pak didn't kill her father but the gun did tell the children of the two beheaded Indian soldiers? What are award wapsi and human rights tel now.
                      1. V
                        May 4, 2017 at 6:47 am
                        Few things Govt.Of India should be clear about. 1 stead of saying stan sponsored terrorists it should be terrorism by stan whether in Uniform and non Uniform .ISI and Army are fully Involved in this and they call it non state actors is not correct.Any one and every one from stan is a state actor . 2. All Muslim bodies from India should take a stand and condemn the community members from supporting stani anti national activities . The boys who are getting Mislead should be educated. 3.Should stop playing religion card in each and every Government functioning
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