Kopar Khairane

No Reverberation in Islamabad Ahead of the Grand India-Pakistan Davis Cup Encounter

<p>Never before has the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) encountered requests for passes for a Davis Cup match from as distant regions as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Regrettably, the city of Islamabad shows no inclination towards hosting a high-profile India-Pakistan contest.</p>
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<p>Not a solitary poster graces this picturesque city, indicating the arrival of an Indian team for a Davis Cup match, breaking a 60-year hiatus.</p>
<p>The Islamabad Sports Complex, serving as the venue for the World Group I match, lacks any discernible excitement, and access to the expansive complex is restricted, even for local media.</p>
<p>The PTF places its aspirations for the revival of the sport in the country upon this tie. However, the promotion of the match through branding, advertisement, marketing, and interviews is notably deficient.</p>
<p>In summary, the fervor and ambiance usually associated with an India-Pakistan match are conspicuously absent.</p>
<p>To compound matters, only 500 guests and fans will be accommodated inside the complex on Saturday and Sunday, the designated match days.</p>
<p>Entry is strictly by invitation, with the PTF selecting only a select tennis audience for attendance.</p>
<p>The stringent security measures mean that the Indian players will be unable to partake in Pakistani hospitality. They are confined to the venue and the team hotel, as the city remains inaccessible to them.</p>
<p>Under the vigilant scrutiny of security agencies, the Indians cannot venture even to the nearby shopping mall, let alone pay a visit to the renowned Margala Hill.</p>
<p>“We had envisioned a grand spectacle for the Indian contingent but are compelled to maintain a low-key affair,” remarked a prominent PTF official when questioned about the lack of buzz.</p>
<p>“This is necessitated by security concerns raised by the Indian Federation. The ITF has endorsed a plan, and we are obligated to adhere to it.</p>
<p>We had intended to adorn the city with posters featuring players from India and Pakistan, but our hands are tied.”</p>
<p>Muhammad Khalil Chugtai, the PTF treasurer, also expressed regret over the restrictive environment in which the tie is being contested.</p>
<p>“If the Indian team had arrived via the Wagah border, we would have orchestrated a splendid welcome event at Wagah itself,” he lamented.</p>
<p>“In 2017, Iran too voiced security concerns, and appropriate security arrangements were implemented. Eventually, they grew weary of being confined to a hotel.”</p>
<p>India’s apprehensions</p>
<p>The AITA had petitioned the ITF to relocate the tie from Pakistan, citing potential security threats to the players.</p>
<p>Their argument centered on Kashmir Day falling on February 4, the second day of the tie, which they believed could lead to complications. However, the AITA erred in noting that Kashmir Day is on February 5, a public holiday.</p>
<p>The AITA also voiced concerns about the General Elections in Pakistan, slated for February 8, being in proximity to the matches, expressing fears of pre-poll violence.</p>
<p>Additionally, they mentioned India and Pakistan’s opposing stances in the Israel-Palestine conflict, deeming it a potential security risk for their players in Pakistan.</p>
<p>Nevertheless, the Davis Cup Committee dismissed the AITA’s plea, and subsequently, the ITF Tribunal ruled that the Indian team is unlikely to encounter security issues.</p>
<p>“To ensure an incident-free tie, stringent security measures are in place. The ITF has advised us to keep it a subdued affair. Hence, the absence of visible excitement or buzz.</p>
<p>Yet, we have received requests from KPK, Baloch, and even Southern Punjab for passes. People desire to witness an India-Pakistan match.</p>
<p>Previously, we primarily received requests from Lahore. There is interest within the tennis fraternity, but our ability to promote the tie is limited,” stated Asim Shafik, a key official overseeing arrangements for the tie.</p>
<p>“For us, it is about garnering attention. If 10,000 people watch, and even if 100 parents enroll their kids to learn tennis, that would be commendable,” he concluded.</p>