Pakistan's participation in the Junior Hockey World Cup depends on government approval
India is all set to host the Junior World Cup in December 2016.
Due to recent developments, the diplomatic relationship is in a dicey situation between the two neighboring countries, India and Pakistan. The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has declared that they would not send the hockey team for the FIH Junior World Cup scheduled to be held in Lucknow in December.
As reported in the Indian Express, the secretary of the PHF, Shahbaz Ahmed informed the media that the junior hockey team is awaiting its government's approval and will only travel to India for the World Cup. when they get the green signal. He said, “Given the existing relations between the two countries we have asked the Pakistan Sports Board to get us clearance for the tournament.”
The former Pakistan captan, however, put an emphasis on the importance of the Junior World Cup for the future of the sport in Pakistan. He added, though, that India's reaction to the Uri incident was not a very promising sign. India had earlier stopped the Pakistani Kabbadi team from travelling to Ahmedabad for the Kabbadi World Cup.
“We will go if the government says we can go but we are concerned especially after the way the Indians didn’t allow Pakistan to send its team for the ongoing Kabbadi Championship in Ahmedabad,” the PHF secretary said.
The rivalry between the two countries goes back a long way. However, the hostilities escalated after India's surgical strikes against militants in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) last week. Allegedly, the Indian army base in Uri was first attacked by Pakistani militants.
The relationship between the two hockey federations has not been ver cordial in recent years. Hockey India had even threatened not to play any bilateral matches against Pakistan until they receive a formal apology regarding the 2014 Champions Trophy incident. The Pakistani players had gone overboard with their celebrations after their victory against the Indians in the semi-final fixture.
Shahbaz, however, claimed that the chapter was a closed one. PHF officials had earlier expressed their regret over the incident as did the head coach of the Pakistan hockey team. He spoke about the primary objectives of the PHF and said, “We are now focusing on the Junior World Cup and the Asian Champions Trophy in Malaysia this month because in both events India is involved.”
Shahbaz maintained that they have not received any ill-treatment when they visited India in the past but he was concerned about the security. “If the government feels we can go and play there it is fine for us because the security of our players and officials is a responsibility of the FIH and host nation,” he said.
Olympians from Pakistan had earlier expressed their dismay at how some Indian players had commented about defeating Pakistan in the upcoming Asian Champions Trophy to avenge the Uri attack.