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Pak Govt doesn't clear Wagah Border 'tennis peace match' over security concerns

June 9, 2011 - Islamabad

The Pakistan government has refused to give clearance for a planned tennis 'peace match' between Aisam-ul-Haq of Pakistan and Rohan Bopanna of India at the Wagah Border, citing security reasons.

The government's move has also closed down the sports diplomacy bid initiated by the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) for easing out tensions between the two neighbours since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

"We have failed to get clearance from the government and were only conveyed that there is no security clearance for this event, which forced us to cancel the match," The Dawn quoted PTF spokesman Irshad Bhatti, as saying.

The PTF had made several arrangements for the 'Indo-Pak Express' to play an exhibition match at the Wagah border with an aim to promote peace through sport.

"We have blocked all the efforts relating to this event after the failure to get security clearance from the government. But if we get the clearance, we will go for the match," Bhatti said.

The PTF spokesman, however, refused to share the security concerns raised by the government, which led to the cancellation of the match.

"I can't comment over the reasons," said Bhatti, when asked to share the security concerns that could have affected the event.

Commenting over the financial losses because of the cancellation of the event, the spokesman insisted: "It's not a big amount at all because the money is not an issue for the federation, instead it's the development and promotion of the game which matter to us at this time."

Bhatti also said that Aisam was likely to take up the issue with Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

"We have already sent a request to the prime minister for an appointment with Aisam, and issues related to the promotion of the sport will also be discussed in the meeting," he added.


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