Pakistan was awarded the hosting rights for the 2015 Squash World Cup, recently, as the country moved a step closer to reviving hosting of international sport events. The Pakistan Squash Federation has termed this a major breakthrough in the country’s efforts to restore foreign confidence. The decision was made after the Asian Individual Squash Championship was successfully held in Islamabad recently, in which players from eight countries, other than the hosts, took part. Foreign players were able to appreciate the efforts made by all parties involved in ensuring security, as well as smooth running of affairs during the event.
The breakthrough, the fruit of which would be seen two years later, is an achievement. For some time now, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has also tried hosting an international fixture — it even made a deal with Bangladesh to back its nomination for the International Cricket Council presidency in return for visiting Pakistan. The attempt proved futile. Organising a Pakistan Super League might just be too tall an order for the PCB and endeavours to convince India and Sri Lanka have also gone in vain. Unfortunately, in a cricket-obsessed country like ours, people will only really feel that international sports has returned to Pakistan in earnest if that list features cricket. This cannot and should not, however, take the shine off the PSF’s success in winning the rights for the 2015 mega event.
The staging of the Asian Snooker Championship in Karachi last month was also a success and plans to bid for more events in the country have been put in place as well. Squash is doing its bit and the taekwondo federation is making efforts in inviting foreigners as well. These crucial steps need to be taken for the world to develop faith in Pakistan’s ability to host international events. While it won’t be surprising to see the top players back out of the 2015 Squash World Cup due to security concerns, one can put faith in the word hope.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2013.