Though Sena Attacked BCCI HQ, In Squash, Pakistan Players Feel Safe in India
CHENNAI: Even as the Shiv Sena effectively said ‘stumps’ to a bilateral cricket series between India and Pakistan in the near future, relations between the two countries in other sports isn’t as dire.
Take squash for instance. Sadia Gul and Sammer Anjum, two players who were here in the city to take part in the Chennai leg of the JSW Indian Squash Circuit, maintain that it isn’t all that bad. “We did not have any problems with our visas this year. While last year we were asked to do a number of things (get letters of approval from the Pakistan Squash Federation, meet with Crime Investigation Department), this year it has been smooth,” they smile.
They are travelling back to Pakistan on Tuesday but expect to be back soon. “Our upcoming tournaments are the Qatar Classic and after that there is the South Asian Games (SAF Games) which will be held in India (Guwahati and Shillong). So if all goes well, we should play in that,” they say in unison.
That is a sentiment shared by Shaukat Javed, the vice-president of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA). “Sports shouldn’t mix with politics,” he told Express. “And I do expect that we will participate in the upcoming SAF Games.”
While they do not yet know of Sena members protesting in front of the BCCI offices in Mumbai, their message is quite clear. “We do not feel threatened at all.”
Both Gul, 18, and Anjum, 21, have been to India before (to play in the same tournament) and they maintain that travelling to India is a lot safer (from Pakistan) than people make it out to be. “It takes a lot of time to convince our parents and friends before we can come here. But it really isn’t like that. We have not faced any problems thus far. We don’t feel threatened at all to be here. Likewise, they can’t understand why some Indian squash players abstain from travelling across the border. “We heard that a few Indian players rejected the idea of travelling across but again... it’s safe.” A message they stress more than once.
While Gul’s immediate family haven’t visited India, Anjum’s grandfather, who is in the Exim business, does trade with the country. “Actually, my grandfather deals with the export and import of vegetables and dry fruits across the border,” she says. In the current climate, it doesn’t take much time for people to resort to arms. If only there were more voices like these two.