LAHORE: The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) is confronted with a lingering problem after both International Hockey Federation (FIH) and Hockey India (HI) made things difficult for them over the grant of visas for the Junior World Cup, which is scheduled to begin in the Indian city of Bhubaneswar from Nov 25.
PHF secretary Asif Bajwa, during a news conference on Friday, made it clear that Pakistan are keen on participating in the event with good intentions but the Indian government is using delaying tactics over the issuance of visa, just like it did on the previous occasion when Pakistan were not granted visas for the World Cup travel.
While explaining the situation, Bajwa said: “I received FIH’s email on Sept 23 at 11:23am, announcing the World Cup commencement. And adding for the team’s confirmation we will inform you later. On the same date, another email from FIH informed me that the last date for the application of the Indian visa was Sept 24.
“When I spoke to the FIH that how it is possible for the PHF to apply for the visas for a good number of players and officials at such a short notice. Then another email from HI came that it has already sent an email to PHF on Sept 18. But our records show no such email received from HI,” Bajwa went on.
“If the FIH makes the announcement on Sept 23 [for the World Cup], how HI could send any email to us on Sept 18,” Bajwa questioned.
“I talked to FIH president Narinder Batra on phone and he assured FIH’s all out help to assist Pakistan getting the visas,” Bajwa remarked, while saying: “The PHF has voted for Batra to get elected as FIA president FIH in May.”
Bajwa said a minimum of 60 days were required to get an Indian visa and on Sept 28, the PHF had sent a list of 25 players and nine officials to both HI and the FIH as the first step to apply for visa.
It may be mentioned here that last time the national junior team could not participate in the World Cup, which was also held in India, as then PHF secretary Shahbaz Junior had belatedly applied for the Indian visas. Almost exactly same thing happened when the senior Pakistan side had to participate in the 2018 World Cup, but on that occasion they were granted the Indian visas.
Bajwa said that he had requested HI to give PHF at least 10 days to complete the process. Although he hasn’t received any response yet, he added the PHF also have to seek NOC from the federal government.
Bajwa refrained from saying that any conspiracy was being hatched against Pakistan to deprive them from participation in the forthcoming World Cup.
“I still believe HI wants Pakistan to compete in the World Cup, but cannot say if any wrongdoing at the government-to-government level.”
When reminded that the International Olympic Committee had ruled that no international sports federation would allot any international event to India, until its government assures visa guarantee to all participating countries, Bajwa said at the moment the PHF was dealing the matter with the FIH and HI and hopefully a favourable solution would be found.
Meanwhile, the PHF official said the junior team’s training camp will start from Oct 15.
Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2021