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My perspective on Pakistan players unceremonious H (1/16/2013)
--K. Arumugam
EDITORIAL: In 1998 when necessarily the opposition party won the parliamentary election, the Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee -- who had just a couple of hours before took the office -- chose a hockey match for his first official engagement.

It was not just any other mundane hockey match that a Prime Minister of caliber in Atal Ji took it worth to grace on his first assignment.

It was first match of the India-Pakistan Test Series.

The Series was revived after 10 year’s hiatus.

Atal, who actually headed a right wing party that probably do not even recognize a country called Pakistan, wanted to send right message across the border: We want Peace.

Same day he said his famous words: “You can’t choose your neighbour and only way to live peacefully is to make peace with neighbour”.

Down 15 years, we have another situation where for the first time citizen of another country who have got visa had to return before expiry of visa, and it happened to be hockey players is a matter of concern for us.

The sending back of Pakistan players who came for playing in the four out of five Hockey India League franchise team entail open discussion.

Now, with the Pakistan players being sent back has moved from sport pages to front pages of newspapers gives an idea as to the gravity of the situation.

We may easily recall what has transpired between India and Pakistan in the last one year. This has been a year of yearning for peace from both sides. There has been tremendous progress to say the least.

One of the notable progress in the peace process was Visa on arrival for some category of people, and Pakistan agreeing to accord Most Favoured Nation status to India (India has done the same one and half decade ago) and etc.

Only a week ago, Pakistan cricket team visited India and the tour was a tremendous success though Indian cricket team would try to forget it, as it performed so badly on the turf.

Now, shortly after Pakistan team left the shores, the hockey players have come for HIL, after much speculation whether they will be granted visa or not. It arose because the border clashes between the two countries soured, an Indian soldier be-headed and the brutalization had strong backlash.

The first point here is, once a country gives visa, it is its duty to stand by its action, and protect the visitor’s interest. It has no business to go back, as has happened in the case in question.

Now the second point.

Who have now demanded for Pak’s players exit?

KPS Gill, former president of Indian Hockey Federation, with that he got his words and photo flashed across all sorts of media. He bounced back into the limelight with his sudden opposition to Pak players.

Its irony the man who revived India–Pakistan test series after ten years -- which prompted Atal Ji to do what I mentioned in the opening para – and the same ‘visionary’ who joined hands with Akhtar Rasool (present Pakistan national team manager, then a minister in Pakistan Punjab Govt) to fight for Asian Hockey Federation Election during Bangkok Asian Games, has all of a sudden turned something of a right wing politician. That the duo got barely six votes against Sultan Azlan Shah in the election is a different matter.

It is a clear case of double speak, typical of political hue. You act responsibly when in power, but oppose the same when not in power.

KPS Gill promotes World Series Hockey and the HIL challenges that exactly, and we may conclude why has become all of a sudden so articulate and advocate of anti-Pakistan hockey.

The same applies to Arun Jetley, former Law Minister, close ally of HI Secretary General, who is presently Opposition Leader in the Upper House.

He is main figure in the whole of Hockey India League administrative structure, and was star attraction of opening ceremony as well.

Arun Jetly and Shukla (a sitting minister in the federal government) are powerful cogs in the cricket control body and its blue riband, Indian Premier League.

Both grace the opening ceremony on one day, next day take change their view. Arjun Jetley was part of delegation that met Prime Minister to press for strong action against Pakistan for its border ‘mischief’.

undefined If one takes purely on sporting merit, the present lot who came to India are no way celebrity Pakistan hockey players such as Waseem Ahmed, Rehan Butt, Shakeel Abbassi etc whom we have lost to never ending IHF-HI tussle.

They are not going add colour and gaiety to HIL, but the vice-versa is true.

However, certain things need to be taken into account in the emerging scenario where India’s image will take a beating the sporting world.

The present hockey administrators are more than eager to involve Pakistan hockey, while no sporting country goes to Pakistan soils for play.

HI Secretary General Narinder Batra visited Pakistan to ink revival of India-Pakistan test series that was to take off in two months time from now.

undefined Its HI’s political clout that ensured visa for the franchise purchased Pakistan Players.

Selection of Pakistan players in itself is a great development.

Because, when the second IPL Auction took place two years ago, all the franchise uniformly neglected Pak players, and the IPL goes on without Pak players since then.

Top cricket is played not more than 6,7 countries, and if it can still be highly popular without Pakistan, why can’t the same apply to hockey a sport that is played strongly in 20,25 countries.

So, what needs to be understood is:

Qualitatively HIL is not going to suffer with the exit of Pak players

As a State India failed to honour its Visa commitments towards Pak players

No other sporting body in India did try to promote Pak hockey as that of HI.

The whole of Western or Eastern countries still shun Pakistan soils and only HI went ahead to visit in March.

Both HI and IHF welcomed Pakistan hockey players, unlike cricket.

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