The Pakistan athletes and officials, as they admitted, were pleasantly shocked to get such a huge applause from the India [ Images ]n fans as they marched into the arena. In fact, they got the second biggest cheer after hosts India despite the countries not getting along well diplomatically.
Rashid Mahmood, manager of the Pakistan weightlifting team, admitted that they were expecting boos and taunts but the generosity of the Indian fans shocked them.
"We are very happy and delighted with the way we have been received in India. Right from the opening ceremony, we have been given a royal welcome. Before coming here, we were told a lot of things but that has all proved wrong. The people here are lovely and they are delighted to meet us. They have given us the feeling that they are proud to host us, which has really touched us a lot," he told rediff.com.
"We felt really special during the opening ceremony. We were so thrilled when we were cheered," he added.
The families of the Pakistani athletes had warned about getting a hostile reception because of the thaw in relations between the two countries.
"Our families and friends called us from Pakistan after the opening ceremony and they also praised the response from the Indian people. When we came here even they were worried as to what would happen to us or if we do okay but now they are thrilled to participate," Mahmood added.
And the bonding continued on day one of the Delhi Games when Pakistan weightlifter Ghafoor Abdullah got a huge cheer every time he came to take his turn.
And Mahmood believes it is time India and Pakistan leaders put all their differences aside and come together.
"The dispute is at the political level and it should end. Our cultures are similar and so does our languages, food and many other things. We are hoping that India and Pakistan should have duel meets. The journey from Lahore [ Images ] to Amristar is only a couple of hours so if the federations agree, we can definitely have weightlifting meets between the two countries in future every month or six months or annually," he quipped.
For Mahmood, whose father hails from Delhi before moving across the border during the partition in 1947, the trip across the border has brought back a lot of pleasant memories.
"I want to see old Delhi because my father belonged to Delhi before he migrated to Pakistan in 1947. We used to stay around the Sadar Bazaar but I don't know where that place is. Our families still remember a few neighbours during their stay here and I'm sure they will recognize my family if I visit them even now," he said.
The Pakistan athletes also seem keen to visit the famous sights around Delhi.
"We still haven't got a chance to see the sights around Delhi. Whatever we have seen of the city is in the bus trips from the Games Villages to the venues. It looks quite a beautiful city and time permitting we would definitely love to go around the city. We want to see Agra [ Images ], the Jama Masjid and other important places because who knows when we will get a chance to come back again to India," Mahmood said.
Pakistan's sports minister Dr M Ali Shah caused a major uproar in the Pakistani camp when, at the very last minute, he took the flag from former gold medal-winning weightlifter Shuja-ud-Din Malik and led the team on to the field.
"It was a mishap that just happened. But we are working to rectify the situation. One of our ministers Shahid Malik will be arriving in Delhi and he will look to resolve the issue by meeting the concerned parties. The issue is closed as far as we are concerned from our side. We never wanted to drag it and that is why we withdrew our pullout threat and took part in the Games."
Mahmood slammed the official's conduct and said he will be made to apologise for his blunder.
"He was such a senior personnel and he should have never done such a thing. It has never happened before that a chef-de-mission has carried the national flag of a country during the opening ceremony. The official has not apologized yet but he will definitely have to apologise because if he doesn't apologise he will have to face the consequences."
And like most of the participating nations, Pakistan too is lavishing rich praise on the Games Village.
"In the Games Village we have been looked after so well and they have taken care of our every need. We have not faced any kind of problem so far since arriving in India. All our requirements have been met. In fact, I will say that we have got more than what we wanted or could have asked for," said the Pakistan official.