Interior ministry clears Pakistan’s trip to India for SAFF Cup

Published June 16, 2023
In this 2018 file photo, Pakistan’s Mohammad Ali (R) and Mahmood Khan vie for the ball with Bangladesh players during their SAFF Cup Group ‘A’ match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium. — Photo courtesy SAFF
In this 2018 file photo, Pakistan’s Mohammad Ali (R) and Mahmood Khan vie for the ball with Bangladesh players during their SAFF Cup Group ‘A’ match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium. — Photo courtesy SAFF

KARACHI: The Pakistan football team has received the green light to travel to India for the upcoming SAFF Championship with a formal No-Objection Certificate set to be issued by the Pakistan Sports Board by Friday.

The matter had been pending with the interior ministry, which gave the team all clear to make the trip on Thursday after thorough background checks.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had already provided clearance and the NOC remains a formality. The PSB will issue the document once it gets the go ahead from the Ministry of Inter-provincial Coordination.

Pakistan and India have had bitter political ties for the past several years although the football team visited India for a two-match friendly series in August 2014.

On Thursday, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Youth Affairs Shaza Fatima Khawaja posted on Twitter the directive issued by the Interior Ministry which stated it had “no objection on participation of Pakistan football team in SAFF Championship”.

The national team, currently in Mauritius for a Four Nations Series, is due to depart for Bangalore, the host city for South Asia’s showpiece tournament, on Sunday and the squad applied for their visas at the Indian High Commission in Port Louis on Thursday.

Pakistan defender Abdullah Shah posted a video on his Instagram on Thursday as the squad arrived at the Indian High Commission, a day after their 1-0 loss to Kenya in St Pierre. The NOC is mandatory for the issuance of visas.

Pakistan, who opened with a 3-0 loss to hosts Mauritius on Sunday, play their final game of the round-robin tournament against Djibouti on Saturday.

Pakistan missed the last edition of the SAFF Championship in 2021 due to a FIFA suspension.

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2023

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