By Syed Khalid Mahmood
Former Pakistan captain and one of the legendary hockey forwards, Olympian
Islahuddin Siddiqui has advised the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) to boycott the upcoming FIH World Cup Tournament 2010 to be staged in India next month.
"The strained Indo-Pak relations and the security threats from different extremist groups in India present a very grim scenario at the moment and it would put Pakistan players under pressure if they play there," Islahuddin, a respected name in the international hockey circles, said in an interview in Karachi.
“I don’t think it would be advisable to let Pakistan play in India. The sports-loving public of both the neighboring countries are very much eager to watch their stalwarts in action but a few elements across the border have become proactive in trying to sabotage sporting ties," he felt.
"What’s the point in sending our players when we are aware of the fact that it might be very difficult for them to concentrate and excel," he believed.
"Pakistan’s hockey team has shown definite signs of improvement of late but let us not them put to that kind of test. They should be forced to take the field in such hostile atmosphere,” Islah, who led Pakistan to the World Cup triumph in 1978, warned.
“It’s not fair to send our hockey team to India as performing well under adverse conditions could be terribly difficult for them," he reckoned.
“When the hugely resourceful franchises could not pick the Pakistan cricketers for the Indian Premier League (IPL) because of the security concerns how will be the hosts providing security to the big Pakistan hockey contingent in the tournament of a profile as high as the World Cup,” Islah, having served the national team as coach and manager, questioned.
"Not picking Pak cricketers in the IPL auction has sent a negative message to the Indo-Pak sub-continent and the world. They themselves proved the point that the conditions were not conducive for sporting action in India," he added.
“The Pakistan Hockey Federation must take a note of the situation and they should assess all the factors before making the decision. They should not think twice of participating in the event if they are not fully satisfied with the security arrangements,” the widely traveled Islah suggested.
Interestingly Pakistan, having won the World Cup a record four times, are scheduled to take on hosts India in the opening match of the 12-nation tournament to be staged in at New Delhi from February 28 to March 11.
It may be recalled that the World Cup hockey tournament was a brainchild of the visionary PHF President, Air Marshal Nur Khan. The inaugural event could not to be hosted in Pakistan but they managed to win the trophy when it was launched in Spain in 1971.
Not surprisingly it was the tension between the two arch-rivals that had cost Pakistan the chance of staging the first-ever World Cup. It was after 19 years when the World Cup was finally held in Pakistan in 1990.