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Days after border truce, India hosts Pakistan equestrian team in Noida

A seven-member Pakistani team arrived Monday to participate in the qualifying matches for the International Tent-Pegging Federation World Cup Championship.

Written by Nirupama Subramanian | Mumbai |
Updated: March 17, 2021 7:06:51 am
India and Pakistan have agreed to strictly observe all agreements on a ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) and other sectors.

Three weeks after India and Pakistan reaffirmed their commitment to adhere strictly to a ceasefire along the Line of Control and the International Border, a sporting team from Pakistan is in India to compete in a multi-country event.

In one of the first outcomes of the easing of tensions between the two neighbours, a seven-member Pakistani team arrived Monday to participate in the qualifying matches for the International Tent-Pegging Federation World Cup Championship.

The qualifiers, jointly organised by the Indian Army-run Equestrian Foundation of India and a private company called Equiwing Sports, got underway in Noida Tuesday with India winning a gold in the team lance competition, and Pakistan striking gold in the individual lance event.

Tent pegging is a horse-mounted game in which riders use a sharp instrument to pierce or pick up a target on the ground. The game is said to have originated in India centuries ago.

The Indian and Pakistani armies issued a joint statement on February 25, saying they had agreed on “strict observance of all agreement, understandings and cease firing along the Line of Control (LoC) and all other sectors” from the midnight of February 24-25.

The Director Generals of Military Operations on the two sides were signatories to the statement in which they also “agreed to address each other’s core issues and concerns which have the propensity to disturb peace and lead to violence”. The statement added that this was in the interest of “achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the borders”.

No incidents of cross LoC or cross border firing have taken place since the agreement took effect.

Brijesh Mathur, president of the committee that has organised the event on behalf of the EFI, said visas for the Pakistani team came through “in the last 20 days”, and that the EFI and the government made it possible.

Amer Munawar, secretary general of the Pakistani team, said he had not expected to make it to the event. “The visas came after a long wait. I thought we would not be able to come. But we made it,” he told The Indian Express.

The Pakistan Equestrian Federation is run by the Punjab Rangers, a paramilitary force that guards the International Border with India. The team members are all civilians.

India is hosting the Group B qualifiers, in which India, Pakistan, the United States, Belarus and Nepal are vying for a place in the World Cup which is to be held in South Africa in 2023. The top two teams will qualify.

The horses for all teams have been provided by the EFI. “That has always been the practice,” Mathur said.

Munawar said the last time he had come was as captain of the Pakistani side in 2011. He said he first came to India to participate in a competition in Hyderabad in 1989, and was then the youngest player in the competition.

“I believe in the ceasefire, I believe in peace. We are sportspeople. We have got friends here. Our Indian brothers, I want to call them brothers, they are taking such good care of us here,” Munawar said.

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