Karachi/New Delhi : The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) says its national team is likely to play in a four-nation hockey tournament in New Delhi ahead of next year’s World Cup while Hockey India (HI) says that’s news to it.
Pakistani media reports say the quadrangular tournament that is being planned by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) ahead of next year’s World Cup will help break the ice between Pakistan and India, who have suspended sporting ties in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks.
However, HI secretary-general Mohammad Aslam Khan told IANS that there was no discussion either with FIH ot with Pakistani hockey officials on the proposed four-nation tournament.
“We have not given a thought to the tournament yet and it is premature to talk about teams to be invited,” said Aslam.
A Pakistani hockey official said the tournament, a dress rehearsal for the World Cup, would be held either this December or January next. And the reason cited for inviting Pakistan was to check the security arrangements for the safety of players and officials.
The official, for good measure, stated that the FIH is aware that the Pakistan team will need the best possible security cover in India because of the strained relations between the two neighbours and that is why it is pushing for a warm-up tournament involving Pakistan, India and two other major teams.
During a meeting with Indian hockey officials in Malaysia during the junior world cup earlier this month, FIH president Leandro Negre apparently asked them to make arrangements for the pre-World Cup tournament. He also informed them that the FIH would invite Pakistan and two other leading teams for the tournament.
If Pakistan indeed take part in the four-nation tournament, then it will be the first high-profile sporting event in India featuring Pakistani players in more than a year.
Post the Mumbai attacks, India refused to send its cricket team to tour Pakistan, and Pakistan in retaliation cancelled the hockey team’s trip to India for a four-nation event in Jalandhar.