India has no intention of coming for Davis Cup: Pak tennis chief

The draw for the zonal tie was made back in February, and it was originally to be held in September, at the Pakistan Sports Complex in Islamabad.

The Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) has come down heavily on its Indian counterpart, claiming the their Davis Cup team has ‘no intention’ of travelling to Islamabad to play the Group 1 Asia/Oceania tie scheduled in November.

“It’s a two-day tie, and I don’t think heavens are going to fall if five-six Indian players come to Islamabad,” PTF President Salim Saifullah Khan told The Indian Express. “This was expected though. We knew that India never had any intention of coming here.”

The draw for the zonal tie was made back in February, and it was originally to be held in September, at the Pakistan Sports Complex in Islamabad.

The AITA had also announced a strong team for the contest, but once the Jammu and Kashmir issue erupted in August when the Indian government abrogated Article 370 and divided the state into two union territories, leading to a breakdown in ties between the two countries, the Indian team – led by non-playing captain Mahesh Bhupathi – made it clear that they were not keen on travelling due to security concerns.

AITA subsequently wrote to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) asking for the tie to either be shifted to a neutral venue or postponed by two months. The ITF decided to postpone the fixture to November 29-30. On Monday though, the AITA wrote to the world governing body again asking for a change in venue.

“In Islamabad, there is no safety issue,” Khan adds. “They are our guests here, we are the hosts. We’ve guaranteed, and the (Pakistan) government has guaranteed (the Indians’ safety). Our high commission is ready to give them visas as well. Nothing happened in the middle of September. They could have come, played and gone by now. It’s mixing politics and sports, which is unfortunate. If they are not coming, why should we go to India (in the future)? Let’s just put a ban on India-Pakistan ties instead of wasting the ITF’s time.”

Earlier this week, it was learnt that the Indian team had again written to AITA asking for the tie to be shifted to a neutral venue, citing security concerns. The PTF, though, also decided to write to the ITF.

“AITA has never been serious to honour their Davis Cup commitments. I would like to bring to your kind notice, once again, our serious reservations in respect of the manner in which the AITA is treating the visit to Pakistan for November Davis Cup tie. Contrary to ITF advice and meeting our requests, the AITA team captain and officials have been issuing statements in respect of not wanting to visit Pakistan, unrealistically and unnecessarily pointing security as the reason,” Khan wrote in a letter to the ITF, as reported by Pakistani newspaper ‘The News.’

The letter went on to state that British royal couple Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, are currently touring Pakistan, and the Sri Lankan cricket team too had recently competed in T20 and ODI series in Karachi and Lahore.

“Besides that, over 30 players of 15 different countries are in Islamabad these days for the back-to-back ITF Junior international events,” the letter added.

“Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) has been hosting international events on regular basis for the last so many years and are ready to repeat that this season. All of these activities coerce me to point out that AITA stance is self-conceived and premeditated. If international players and celebrities find it safe to travel to Pakistan, why not Indian team?”

In the statement the ITF had issued announcing the new dates for the tie, the world body had also mentioned that it will be conducting a fresh security review of the venue on November 4. The Indian federation, though, at the behest of its players, has written to the ITF asking for the tie to be shifted outside Pakistan before the security review has even taken place.

Incidentally, from the initial squad India had announced for the tie, the no 1 singles and no 2 doubles players, Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Divij Sharan respectively, have expressed their unavailability for the tie in November due to personal commitments.The latest communication between the players, AITA and the ITF has irked the PTF. “November will also come and go, but it just leaves things in bad taste,” Khan concludes.

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