'Head of state' security for first Indian Davis Cup team to visit Pakistan in 60 years

The Indian contingent, which has five players, two physios and two AITA officials, arrived in Islamabad on Sunday night.
The Indian team at the Islamabad Sports Complex ahead of the Davis Cup tie against Pakistan. (Photo | PTI)
The Indian team at the Islamabad Sports Complex ahead of the Davis Cup tie against Pakistan. (Photo | PTI)

ISLAMABAD: A bomb disposal squad will sanitise the Islamabad Sports Complex every morning, and two escort vehicles will shadow the Indian Davis Cup team during its travel as part of multi-layer security arrangement, which is usually accorded to the Head of State, to ensure the visiting tennis players' safety and security.

The national Indian tennis team has travelled to Pakistan for the first time in 60 years, and naturally, the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) does not want to compromise on the security aspect.

Mostly, the Indian players will be restricted to the venue and the hotel and it could well prove to be a bit stifling, though safe.

The PTF is following the security plan that has been approved by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

"Since an Indian team has come to Pakistan after 60 years, we are taking extra precaution. There are four to five layers of security around the Indian team. I, as event security manager, is with them during travel," Col Gul Rehman, who is the secretary general of PTF, told PTI.

The Indian contingent, which has five players, two physios and two AITA officials, arrived in Islamabad on Sunday night.

"Escort vans are with the team during travel time, and they enter the hotel from the VVIP entry, which is reserved for Head of State. Bomb disposal squads sanitised the venue in the morning, and no one will be allowed to enter the venue. It will be a drill that will be followed throughout the tie," he said.

"Islamabad is one of the safest cities in Asia. And since general elections are approaching, security is already tight. Then there is air surveillance, there are around 10,000 cameras deployed in the city. There will be no compromise on safety and security of the Indian players," he said.

The teams of Pakistan Sports Board (PSB), Islamabad Police, traffic police, and others are on the job.

"It's an honour not just for the PTF but also for Pakistan to host the Indian team. We believe in sports diplomacy," Rehman said.

Aqeel Khan, one of the finest tennis players from Pakistan, said that his friends in the rival camp should explore the city, if they are comfortable.

"If they can't move out and see the city, visit the restaurants. I would like to take them for dinner. They have asked for foolproof security and that's why the arrangements. It's up to the Indian players now," he said.

While the Indian team is largely relaxed, it was clear that the players would stay alert.

"It is first time here. Yes, there are a few things that play on your mind. We have just heard things about Pakistan, so an image is created. It is too early to say anything about how it is being in Pakistan. Give us two days," said one player.

Keen to play to their strength, Pakistan chose the grass surface but the hosts won't be able to exploit the home conditions to the optimum level since a maximum of only 500 fans will be allowed to watch the action.

The players get a different kind of energy when the home fans cheer for them and egg them on but having only 500 fans for such a tie would not create that environment.

"It's tough. Apparently ITF, unfortunately, does not allow us to host too many guests or supporters for security reasons. This is something we have to apply. We are still pushing to, may be, have some stands on this side of the court as well. In a day or two we will finalise," said Aisam-ul-haq Quershi.

Related Stories

No stories found.
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com