Karachi: Pakistan`s hockey chiefs plan to push for the revival of bilateral matches against India during next month`s International Hockey Federation (FIH) meet in Switzerland. Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Secretary Asif Bajwa Thursday said he will be meeting his Hockey India counterpart Narinder Batra in Montreux (Switzerland) to explore the possibilities of holding a Pakistan-India test series in the near future.
`We are all for reviving bilateral hockey series with India,` Bajwa said.
`Such matches, if held on a regular basis, will benefit hockey in both the countries.`
Pakistan and India have exchanged bilateral tours in the past but sporting ties between the two nations are suffering because of an unofficial freeze following the Nov 26, 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
In the last couple of years, Pakistan and India have played against each other on the hockey field but only in international tournaments run by the FIH or the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF).
Even though hockey which was once a very popular sport in the sub-continent has lost its gloss, matches between Pakistan and India continue to draw huge crowds.
Earlier this month, a packed stadium witnessed an electrifying clash between the former Asian giants during the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. Even the event`s final failed to produce a similar atmosphere.
Bajwa, a former Olympian, believes that unless Pakistan and India resume exchanging home-and-away matches on a regular basis, hockey will find it difficult to regain its lost glory in the sub-continent.
`For hockey to regain its lost popularity we have to attract fans and one great way to do that is to have regular Pakistan-India matches,` he told The News.
The problem, however, is that the Indian government seems unwilling to allow its team to travel to Pakistan, the PHF secretary said. Security of players is a concern, especially after the March 3, 2009 attack by terrorists on a bus carrying Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore.
Bajwa is of the view that the two teams can play at neutral venues like Dubai, Doha or Kuala Lumpur.
`It would be great if we can have Pakistan-India matches in Lahore, Karachi, Delhi or Chandigarh but if that`s not possible then we can stage the series on neutral soil.
Even though the costs will be higher, it will still be a win-win option for both the countries.`
Bajwa said that he will discuss the possibility of reviving the series with his Indian counterpart in Montreux.
`We will have a detailed meeting and the idea of reviving bilateral matches will be on the top of the agenda,` he said.
Top officials from around the hockey world will be assembling in the Swiss city for a series of meetings starting Nov 7.
The 42nd Statutory Congress of the FIH will take place Nov 13 in the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace Hotel.