Sporting ties key to bring India and Pakistan closer: Hasan

Islamabad: POA President Syed Arif Hasan has
advocated the need to normalise the sporting ties with India,
saying the improved relations between the two nations would
only help the athletes of Pakistan.

The Pakistan Olympic Association official said the
attitude towards the neighbours must change as it is in
Pakistan`s interest if relations with India improve.

"The benefits of normal sporting contacts with India
are greater for Pakistan. Our sportsmen and women can take
advantage of the excellent training facilities and coaching
courses in India.”

"It is also cheaper for us and other federations to send
teams to India and organise competitions in the region," Hasan
said in an interview.

Hasan said sport can become a tool to help ease the
strain between the two nations.

"We need to use sports to promote more understanding
between the people, I think sports can help remove lot of
concerns and mistrust between the two nations," he said.

POA has given approval to send 95-member contingent for
the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

Hasan, a former military man, made it clear that the
military had no objections to having sporting ties with India.

"The Commonwealth Games torch will reach Pakistan on June
23 and will be taken to India via the Wagah Border. We have
planned to have a special ceremony with children. These
children on both sides of the border will exchange white
handkerchiefs as a symbol of peace," he said.

The sporting relationship between India and Pakistan
hit a low following November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

The Indian government cancelled a Test tour to Pakistan
in early 2009 and since then, the governments have avoided
bilateral sporting contacts with cricket suffering the most.

However, Pakistani teams have been to India to take part
in international events like the hockey World Cup, table
tennis world championships and Asian quash championship.