Once again Pakistan-India border tensions have taken its leash out on sports! India has slammed shut the door of opportunity for the progressive development of sports diplomacy between the two countries. The border conflicts between India- Pakistan have in somewhat affected India more, or at least that’s what India’s been trying so hard to show! Either through its media or through such mocking display of small heartedness in sports, India has proved itself to be too vulnerable or just way too insensitive about handling things maturely.
All of nine Pakistani players were sent back home from India where they were supposed to play in the Hockey India League (HIL). Their presence in the inaugural event of Hockey India League became such a throbbing throne in the throats of Shiv Sena and other equally narrow minded groups that they in their desperation for an action, forced the authorities to send back home all of Pakistani hockey players.
Mahmood Rashid, Imran Butt, Fareed Ahmed and Muhammad Tousiq (Mumbai Magicians), Mohammed Rizwan Sr and Mohammad Rizwan Jr (Delhi Waveriders), Kashif Shah (Jaypee Punjab Warriors) and Muhammed Irfan and Shafqat Rasool (Ranchi Rhinos) are the ones who were sent back.
The official stance of Indian authorities was:
"After discussion with all the stakeholders, the Hockey India and Pakistan Hockey Federation have mutually decided to send them (Pakistan players) back” Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra told reporters.
"We kept all stakeholders the franchises, PHF and HI in the loop during these discussions. We took all on board before making this decision. All have approved this decision. The contract money for 2013 will be paid in full to the Pakistani players and HI stands committed in guaranteeing the same”.
The issue all started with the Pak-Indian border tensions at LOC and following the outbreak of violence at LOC, the politics of India meddled into its sports. The spark turned into flame when the hardline right-wing Shiv Sena party protested at a stadium where the Mumbai Magicians team, who had four Pakistani players in their squad, was practicing. So facing a threat from Shiv Sena and going against them for hockey was not what the authorities had in their mind or were capable of. Rather showing a vulnerable position, they did not make even a single attempt of negotiating with the protestors or with their party leaders. So all the authorities did was to send the Pakistani hockey players packing.
Although, it is better this way for us that at least our players are safer home than they were there and it is true that had they stayed, they would have felt a great deal of pressure with all the protesting and threats, but what is ironic is the fact that Indian politics have for time and again, took out its anger, resentment and desperation through sports. Either its Mumbai attacks a reason for no cricket between the two countries or the LOC tensions for no hockey; the fact sticks there dark and deep that Indian sports gets badly affected by politics.