KARACHI, Dec 30: Pakistan miserably failed to make any impression in the international field during the year 2001 and the way PIA has removed legendary Jahangir Khan and great Jansher Khan is nothing short of a disgraceful act to Pakistan squash, which may have a negative effect on the new generation of players.

Jahangir is the world’s greatest squash player in the sport’s history, holds an exclusive record of ten successive wins in the prestigious British Open, won the World Open six times and enjoys a five-and-a-half-year unbeaten record.

The remarkable Jansher also ruled the international squash circuit and established an eight-win record in the World Open, besides winning the British Open five times and several other international events.

As far as Pakistan’s performance in international squash is concerned it is highly disappointing and unsatisfactory. The Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) engaged former British amateur champion Aftab Javed on a lucrative payment for the longest-ever six months coaching assignment for making a winning combination for the World Team Championship held in October in Melbourne.

The outcome of Pakistan team, consisting of Mansoor Zaman, his cousin Shahid Zaman, Aijaz Azmat and Shamsul Islam Khan, was total disaster as we finished 11th among the 24-nation contest.

Pakistan had been six-time champions of the World Team event and the year-ending performance was also as poor as the one was in the 1999 Cairo Championship where we were placed 12th.

With the possible exception of a good performance by Shahid Zaman, who reached the quarterfinals of the USD 30,000 WSF Challenger- a warm-up tournament before the World Team Championship, the other three players were beaten in the first and second rounds.

The PSF sent six top players for the Hong Kong Open, a super series tournament, and all of them put up disheartening performance, suffering defeats in the first and second round. They were all being trained by Aftab Javed, who was with the team at Melbourne and Hong Kong.

Even in three international tournaments with low prize money ranging from $15000-25000, the performance of our leading players remained unsatisfactory as they were attending the camp. Only Mansoor Zaman won the Peshawar event beating Shahid Zaman in all-Pakistan final.

However, in Lahore the victor was Egyptian Kareem Mohammad H. Darwish and in Karachi, Australian Anthony Ricketts was the winner against Egyptian Mohammad Abbas in the title battle as no Pakistani was able to make the final.

Pakistan also fared badly in the Asian Junior Championship in the Indian port city of Chennai where we failed to defend the individual title but retained the team trophy.

Jansher, who could not regain his top physical fitness following his knees operation over two years ago, finally announced his retirement in June in Lahore.

The PIA Open, a major domestic event, was marred by pull out of top seed Mansoor Zaman, thus making the draw lopsided. Amjad Khan lifted the trophy beating Aijaz Azmat.

For the first time in Pakistan squash history Pakistan Open, a Super Series event was to be staged in Lahore on the imported portable court in November but it was cancelled due to the terrorists attacks in the US. It has been announced that Pakistan Open will be held in Lahore in March, 2002.

The ever-improving Majid Khan has emerged as national junior champion and is among the 11 players selected by coach Rehmat Khan, for competing in the Scottish and British Open junior championships.

Pakistani players did compete in the Malaysian Open and the Qatar Classic, both non-Super Series events, and the results achieved were nothing but disappointing. No player could win even a lower prize money tournament outside Pakistan.

There is no proper incentive and encouragement for promoting women squash on proper lines except that a few tournaments are held. There is no organised and proper coaching of the girls at any level. However, in such a condition we have two good performers, former national women champion Bushra and current title holder Erum Jahan.

The overall review of Pakistan squash in the year 2001, is a sad commentary as Pakistan which had been a dominating force for almost two decades today stands sans a single title and the future looks even murkier.

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