Visa hurdle unlikely in Pak’s path to WC
New Delhi, November 5
Amid tense bilateral ties, Pakistan’s hockey team is awaiting visa clearances from India to travel to Bhubaneswar later this month for the World Cup. Sources told The Tribune that the team is ‘likely to travel’ to participate in the multilateral event and there is ‘no problem in principle’.
The tournament, which will see 16 teams face off, kickstarts on November 28. The teams are expected to start reaching Odisha a week prior to it. “The visa applications are under process. The tournament begins end of November. We have enough time,” stressed a source.
Sporting engagements between India and Pakistan have been minimal even as a Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, that was briefed by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale last month, advocated some form of ties including people to people and sports. However, unlike in 2016, when the Pakistani team applied for visas after the official deadline and later withdrew from Junior Hockey World Cup held in India, this time visa requests were received in time, the sources said. “There is no delay in issuance of visas. Pakistan has sent a long list of 30 members. It has to be cut short to 20 by November 10. Once that is done, they will be provided with visas to travel,” said a Hockey India official. The official also clarified that the Indian team too will have to be pruned to 20 by the November 10 November deadline.