The law-and-order situation is now taking its toll on local sports events – participants of the national ranking snooker event have demanded the tournament, and future events, to be moved out of Karachi after the rally killings in the city that claimed 12 lives and left more than two dozen injured.
Players, who have gathered in Karachi from different parts of the country to take part in the 4th NBP Ranking Snooker Championship, were trapped at the venue amid chaos that gripped the city. Following the situation, the participants demanded that the Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Association (PBSA) shift events out of Karachi, ahead of the next ranking event that is scheduled to take place here from June 15.
“Our families fear for our lives and we request the PBSA to at least move the national ranking events out of here,” former Pakistan number one and Punjab cueist Imran Shehzad told The Express Tribune. “It’s really hard to focus on your game when there is fear at the back of your mind in reaching the venue and hotel safely. My family members have been calling me regularly to leave Karachi and come back home.”
Pakistan number one Mohammad Asif echoed Shehzad’s sentiments stating that events should be organised keeping the players in mind.
“We are bound to play wherever the PBSA organises an event but they’ll be responsible if a mishap occurs,” said Asif.
Meanwhile, PBSA Secretary Munawwar Sheikh said that the players’ concern was understandable but the association had its own limitations.
“We know that security is a serious concern but we can’t move events out of Karachi because there’ll be no sponsors if we did that,” said Sheikh. “They want the championships to be held here because we don’t have any top-class venues outside Karachi.”
However, Shehram Changezi, who won a bronze medal at the 2010 Asian Games, said that it was easy for the PBSA to conduct events in Islamabad where it can use the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) facility. Changezi also said he could help the association get extra funds if events were shifted.
“The PSB snooker tables have now got new carpets and there is a hostel for players to live free of cost. Players have been living in hotels and will have to pay from their own pockets in the end. There are snooker lovers in Islamabad and I’ll ask them to give some funds to the PBSA,” said Changezi.
Imran bounces back
Defending champion Imran Shehzad, who suffered a shock defeat in his opening match, beat Balochistan’s Naeem Jaffar 4-0 on day three of the tournament underway at the DHA Creek Club. Shehzad won with frame scores of 65-46, 50-26, 67-49, 122-06. Changezi edged-past Farhan Noor 4-3, while Asjad Iqbal defeated Islamabad’s Yasir Nadeem 4-2. Sindh’s Khurram Agha beat Balochistan’s Abdul Rauf Kurd 4-0, while Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Shah Khan defeated Yasir Shehzad 4-2.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2012.