‘If No Visa is Issued, How Can We Go’: Doubts Over India’s Davis Cup Tie in Pak Amid Kashmir Turmoil
New Delhi: The All India Tennis Association has expressed doubts over whether the Indian team will be able to go to Pakistan for the Davis Cup tie in September, a day after Islamabad suspended trade ties with India and expelled the Indian envoy in retaliation for New Delhi’s decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s Special Status.
AITA’s secretary general Hironmoy Chatterjee told news agency ANI that the association will not take the decision to suspend the tour, and passed the buck to the government and the International Tennis Federation. “The idea is for International Tennis Federation to see if situation is conducive or not. If we say we're not going to play, then we're going to be penalised. If ITF decides that situation is sensitive and Pakistan has suspended ties, if no visa is issued, how can we go?” he asked.
He said the final decision will be taken by the government and the International Tennis Federation, a statement in contrast to what he was said at the end of July: "No government clearance is required for the players to travel to Pakistan since it is the World Cup of tennis.”
The already strained ties between India and Pakistan deteriorated this week after the central government amended Article 37O of the Constitution to end Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and semi-autonomy, and also bifurcated the state into two union territories – J&K and Ladakh. The move drew a sharp reaction from Pakistan, with Prime Minister Imran Khan first warning that it may lead to a conventional war and then suspending trade ties and expelling the Indian high commissioner.
India’s Davis Cup tie against Pakistan is scheduled in Islamabad for September 14-15 and, on Monday, Chatterjee said the team too has been selected. All the top players, led by Prajnesh Gunneswaran, were named in the squad. There was no scope for surprises with top singles and doubles players being automatic selection. Gunneswaran and Ramkumar Ramanathan are to lead the singles challenge while Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan will make the doubles pair for the grass court tie.
If the tour does go ahead, it would be the first time since 1964 that India will play in Pakistan. India had won that tie 4-0 in Lahore. Pakistan Tennis Federation president Salim Saifullah Khan, in a recent interview to PTI, said the highest possible security will be provided to the visiting Indian team.
India's cricket team has not toured Pakistan since 2007 and bilateral cricketing ties between them have remained suspended since 2008.
Relations further soured in February this year after a suicide car bombing killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police in Indian-controlled Kashmir putting question marks on the Asia/Oceania Group 1 tie, which will be held on Sept. 14-15 in Islamabad.
Until a few years back Pakistan was forced to host its home Davis Cup ties at neutral venues as teams refused to travel due to security concerns.