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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Hockey team’s Pakistan trip red-flagged

It is learnt that Hockey India’s proposal had found favour with the Sports Ministry,which recommended the visit.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Published: May 16, 2012 3:49:58 am

Although Pakistan’s T20 cricket champions appear set to participate in this year’s Champions League tournament following the BCCI’s go-ahead,a similar effort at normalising sporting ties between the two countries fell through last month when New Delhi cited “security concerns” for refusing an Indian hockey team’s trip.

Top government sources said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) rejected the proposal from Hockey India — the apex body for hockey in the country — for the trip to Pakistan. The proposal,it is learnt,was for the team to participate in a tournament to be held in Lahore from April 9.

It is learnt that Hockey India’s proposal had found favour with the Sports Ministry,which recommended the visit. But intelligence agencies,which were consulted by MHA and MEA,strongly recommended against the team’s visit. It is learnt that the agencies said that due to the prevailing security situation in that country,it will not be advisable to send the team,unless there were assurances from the highest levels in the Pakistan government.

This was seen by South Block as a negative response to the proposal,which was then communicated to Hockey India.

The Indian hockey team last went to Pakistan in 2006,but there has not been a single tour after the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008. However,the Pakistan hockey team has played in India twice in 2010. In the recently held World Series Hockey tournament here,eight Pakistan players participated.

Sources,however,said that there hasn’t been any consideration of the Indian cricket team’s tour to Pakistan,since there has not been any proposal in the recent past. While the hockey team’s tour was refused,the intelligence agencies will conduct a “fresh security review”,once a fresh proposal comes to the MEA for a Pakistan tour.

Though there have been positive noises in the recent months from leaders of both sides to have an India-Pakistan cricket series in Pakistan,there hasn’t been any concrete move in that direction so far.

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