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Pakistan denies visas to Indian boxers

June 19, 2005 16:54 IST

Sports diplomacy may have become a catch word in the Indo-Pak confidence building measures but Pakistan's interior ministry has denied visa to the country's pugilists participating in the inaugural Asian Junior Boxing Championship beginning at Karachi on Monday.

India had announced a 14-member contingent, including 11 boxers, for the event and the team was scheduled to leave for Karachi on Saturday.

"Our team was scheduled to leave for Pakistan yesterday. They (boxers) could not go because of visa problems. And we were not even given a reason for that," sources in the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation said on Sunday.

The sources, however, said they were in touch with the Pakistan Boxing Federation and were hopeful that the players could get the necessary clearance and make it to Karachi before the start of the competition.

"We are in touch with PBF officials. They have promised us that we would get visas by tomorrow morning," they said.

"They will also include the names of our boxers in the draws which would be taken out tomorrow morning. So they should be able to play from Tuesday".

This is not the first time that Indian sportspersons had problems in getting visas to go and play in Pakistan.

The Indian hockey team which toured Pakistan for a four-match Test series last year were issued visas at the eleventh hour while the journalists, who were to travel with the team to cover the series, were denied visas.

Ever since the archrivals resumed bilateral sporting ties with the historic cricket series in 2004, Pakistan has hosted Indian snooker and football teams and a big contingent travelled to Islamabad for the SAF Games.

Pakistan Boxing Federation Chairman Anwar Chowdhary, in turn, lambasted the country's interior ministry for their lethargic attitude as also double standards for denying visas to Indian boxers.

"India and Chinese Taipei were keen to contest the event but they could not get the visas due to lethargic attitude of our interior ministry," Chowdhry was quoted as saying by 'The News.

He also accused their interior ministry officials for showing double standard as players from these countries have been visiting Pakistan for various other tournaments.

"While athletes and officials from India and Chinese Taipei are allowed to participate in other sports events at Pakistan's soil, boxers were denied the clearance from interior ministry," he said referring to cricket, hockey, football, snooker, golf, wrestling and other sports competitions recently played in Pakistan.

If India and Chinese Taipei were not allowed to participate in the six-day mega event, only 19 teams would be seen in action here.

Teams: Afghanistan, China, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Syria, Thailand, Turkmenistan, UAE, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and hosts Pakistan.

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