Pak cueists to travel to India for Asian U-21 snooker C'ship
New Delhi: India`s reluctance to travel to Karachi for a snooker series over security fears won`t affect the relationship between the two nations as a four-member Pakistan team will visit Indore to participate in the Asian U-21 snooker championship, PBSA chief Alamgir A Shaikh said.
"A four-member team will definitely travel to India for the Asian U-21 snooker from April 1 to 7. The current turn of events will not affect our relationship with the Indian counterparts," Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Association president Shaikh told PTI from Karachi.
"We will soon submit our players` visa applications to the Indian Embassy in Islamabad and are confident of getting it in coming weeks.
"We have got the invitation from the Asian Confederation of Billiard Sports (ACBS). Mohammad Majid and Hamza Akbar are the two players while the 1994 IBSF World Snooker Champion Muhammad Yousaf will be the coach and Javed Karim as manager. The team will be reaching Mumbai via flight either on March 28 or 29," Shaikh added.
India and Pakistan yesterday postponed their snooker series planned for this week over security situation in the host city Karachi, following a bomb attack on Sunday.
At least 48 people, including women and children, were killed and 140 injured when two powerful blasts ripped through a Shia-dominated area of the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi, the latest in a string of attacks targeting the minority sect.
Talking about the cancelled tour, scheduled from March 7-10, Shaikh said it was an "unfortunate" decision and elaborate security arrangement had been put in place for the resumption of snooker ties between the two countries after a gap of eight years.
"The tour has been postponed and new dates for the event will be announced in due course. It`s unfortunate that the tour was put on hold at the last minute. In the last six months, there was no bomb blast in Karachi and suddenly, just before the tournament, it happened. It`s just the bad timing for us. We can`t really blame the Indian government for their stand," Shaikh said.
"The lovely people here were waiting for them and all the arrangements were put in place including hotel booking. They could have sent the team here as I myself got the assurance from the security establishment to provide the Indian cueists with the best possible cover," he said.
The Union sports ministry had yesterday instructed the BSFI to cancel the tour after it came to their knowldge that the federation did not obtain requisite government clearances.
A federation needs to obtain the approval of three ministries -- sports, external affairs and home affairs -- before sending their team for overseas tour.
BSFI had picked four players -- Kamal Chawla, Brijesh Damani, Lucky Vatnani and Rafath Habib -- to represent the country. The players, who were issued visas yesterday, were scheduled to leave for Karachi tomorrow.
Shaikh also remained hopeful that the Indian team will visit Pakistan for the men`s senior Asian Snooker Championship scheduled in Karachi from April 27 to May 3.
"We are hopeful that till that time, situation gets normalised and the Indian team, along with other countries, visit the city."