Pakistan hopes National Games’ success will change sporting scenario


Karachi : Pakistan’s sports chiefs are hoping to bring international sporting action back to the country after successfully hosting the National Games in Peshawar last month.

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The Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) is planning to host various international events after it got much-needed confidence by staging the National Games, which saw the participation of some 4,000 athletes in Peshawar, a sensitive city where strict security arrangements were made to avoid any untoward incident.

“It is a huge breakthrough for Pakistan sports. The successful hosting of National Games would definitely send a positive message throughout the world,” POA president Arif Hasan told The Express Tribune.

“The National Games would really help in creating a soft image of the country.”

The last major international sporting event in terror-affected Pakistan was the Sri Lankan cricket team’s tour in 2009 that was hastily called off after a terrorist attack on the team’s bus in Lahore. Pakistan also lost the right to co-host the cricket World Cup with India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

The Pakistan Cricket Board is still struggling to get other countries to play in Pakistan.

The country is not getting to host Davis Cup matches as the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has scrapped the home ties.

Hasan said the POA was under a lot of pressure by various stakeholders for hosting the event in Peshawar but it took a bold step by remaining adamant to give a go-ahead to the event in the troubled city.

“We wanted to a send a positive signal to the world and by ensuring fool-proof security at the sensitive venue we have also proved that we can host any international event.”

Hasan said the POA is now planning to host various international events and in this regard it would ask its affiliated sports bodies to invite their foreign counterparts.

“We have asked the bodies to capitalise on National Games success.”

“The POA would ask federations to invite foreign teams in our annual general meeting later this month. We would assure our full support to them in providing security to touring teams.”

He said the federations can start hosting international events by arranging competitions at South Asian level.

“It is not important to stage big events straightaway. We can start with small events like holding competitions at South Asian level. The important thing is that the momentum should not stop.”

Hasan said POA itself would also write to their foreign counterparts to send their outfits to Pakistan for which flawless security arrangements would be assured.