Even as a majority of Indian hockey players — past and present — and officials have welcomed the Indian government’s decision to withhold permission for the bilateral hockey series with Pakistan scheduled next month, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has criticised the decision.

The PHF has threatened to boycott the junior World Cup, to be organised in New Delhi in December this year, saying enough is enough. “We can’t take this anymore. First they send our players back from the Hockey India League and now this. We have done enough to try and revive hockey ties between the two nations. It is up to India now,” said PHF general secretary Asif Bajwa.

“We may pull out of the Junior World Cup to be held in India in December because the security of our players is important. Also, if any such bilateral series takes place in future, the Indian team will have to visit Pakistan first,” he added.

HI has no role

Hockey India, however, has rejected any such suggestion. Bajwa’s Indian counterpart Narinder Batra has made it clear that India had no role in any such decision. “The junior World Cup has been allotted to India by the International Hockey Federation and it is an FIH event. As far as we are concerned, Pakistan’s participation is up to it and the FIH. We are not a party to that,” he categorically stated.

Batra also said that he had no official information on PHF’s stance. “I only know what has been reported in the media. What I can confirm is that Pakistan has expressed interest in participating even in any test event that we might host before the main competition. We are likely to organise a six-nation tournament in October and PHF has already confirmed its willingness to come for that,” he said.

Interestingly, while the Ministry of External Affairs denied permission for the hockey series late on Thursday evening, a Pakistan team had landed in the morning for the ongoing South Asian women’s handball tournament in Patiala. Pakistani cyclists are also currently in the country for the Asian championship. — Special Correspondent

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