India has refused to issue visas to Pakistani squash players for World Junior Squash Individual & Team Championship, scheduled to be played in Chennai, India, from July 18-23.
According to a press release of Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF), six players, accompanied by three officials, were to participate in the event. “It was the requirement of Indian organisers that Pakistan should apply for visas early,” PSF said. Visa processing time for India as per the official website of High Commission of India is 35 days, it added. The event is to start from July 18, it said.A federation spokesman said PSF had applied for visas in April, and World Squash Federation, Asian Squash Federation and the organisers were informed.
On June 20, High Commission of India in Islamabad returned all passports of Pakistan players and officials without visas, stated the PSF. “PSF has approached World squash bodies to look into the matter and ensure participation of Pakistan players in the World Junior Championship or cancel this event as the organiser is doing injustice to Pakistan. This is totally against the ethics of sports. We believe that sportsmen help in strengthening relations amongst nations,” stated PSF.
The spokesman added that PSF had always helped Indian players in getting visas. Miss Sachika Ingale and her mother were not only given preference in visa process but were also given VIP treatment during their stay in Pakistan, he added.
Meanwhile, a local coach said that India saved Pakistani players from humiliation by not issuing visas because no Pakistani player was likely to reach even the last-sixteen stage.Our correspondent from Islamabad adds: “The PSF had submitted visa documents well in time. Every requirement was fulfilled as no gap was left for any objection,” Group Captain Tahir Sultan, when approached, said.
“Indian High Commission refused visa without any real justification,” he said. When ‘The News’ approached Khalid Mehmood, secretary Pakistan Olympic Association (POA), he said that Ministry for Inter Provincial Coordination (IOC) officials took up the matter with him. “I am ready to help and take the squash players voice to the highest forum. I am waiting for the required documents to take the matter to IOC and other forums,” he added.Pakistan has always tried to accommodate Indian athletes. Recently, more than 25 Indian tennis players were given visas to play Pakistan circuit.