Pakistan have appealed to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to reconsider its decision to shift the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania group two tie against Lebanon away from Lahore due to security reasons.
Pakistan were due to play Lebanon in Lahore in February next year but the ITF announced earlier in the week that the tie had been moved to Lebanon due to the security conditions prevalent in the country.
At a time when the country desperately seeks revival of international events, the decision has irked the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF).
Mumtaz Yousuf, the PTF secretary, confirmed that an official appeal had been lodged against the decision.
“We’re very disappointed at the ITF’s decision,” said Yousuf. “We’ve filed an appeal with them to reconsider their decision as there’s still time for the event.”
Yousuf claimed that Lebanon were ready to play the tie in Pakistan but the ITF had expressed its reservations over security conditions.
“The Lebanon tennis federation had accepted our invitation to play in Pakistan provided we guaranteed foolproof security for their players and we were doing that,” he said. “We’re disappointed because we were making proper arrangements and we had also kept the ITF informed about our plans. The ITF should’ve come to Pakistan to review the arrangements themselves before taking a decision.
Revival of sporting activities
International sporting activities in the country took a hit in the aftermath of the gun attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team in Lahore in March 2009. This also had an effect on international tennis events taking place in the country, with Pakistan being forced to play their home Davis Cup ties against Hong Kong, Philippines, Oman and New Zealand abroad because of the security situation.
The ITF moved these ties after the opposing teams refused to travel to Pakistan. The PTF had also filed compensation claims with the ITF after losing the right to host their Davis Cup ties.
However, recent months have seen a revival of sporting activity with several international teams touring the country. Afghanistan’s cricket team toured Pakistan in May for a three-match one-day series against the country’s ‘A’ team.
The Indian blind cricket team recently concluded their trip to the country, having played a T20 and one-day series against their Pakistani counterparts in Lahore and Islamabad. Last week Pakistani and Indian wrestlers took part in the Indo-Pak Dangal in Lahore, Gujranwala and Faisalabad.
A football team from Palestine took part in a series with Pakistan and an international boxing tournament is also scheduled to be held in Islamabad where a host of countries are due to take part.
In addition, the Pakistan Cricket Board has been looking at the prospect of hosting a series against Bangladesh and cricket authorities from both the countries have been in talks regarding the matter.
Aisam unhappy with development
Meanwhile, the country’s top tennis player Aisamul Haq Qureshi lamented the development, saying it would be difficult for Pakistan to qualify for the main round of the Davis Cup if they always had to play away from home.
“It’s not easy going and playing our home ties abroad, it kills our advantage and home support,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2011.