Indian tennis players want safety guarantees before they travel to Islamabad for their Davis Cup tie against Pakistan, captain Mahesh Bhupathi said yesterday.
Pakistan last week expelled India’s ambassador and suspended bilateral trade and all public transport links with its neighbor after New Delhi removed “special status” from its portion of the contested region of Kashmir.
The nuclear-armed neighbors have fought two wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from colonial power the UK in 1947. They came close to a third in February after a deadly attack on Indian police by a Pakistan-based militant group resulted in airstrikes by both countries.
Bhupathi said that security was his main concern for the team.
“We just want guarantees on safety,” he told reporters by e-mail.
The All India Tennis Association said that it had written to the sport’s governing body once again asking for a shift of the tie to a neutral venue or to postpone it for a couple of months until tensions simmer down.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has already responded to a previous request by the association, saying that it was satisfied with the safety plan in place in Islamabad.
“The recent developments have resulted in an atmosphere which is not conducive for a happy friendly tie between the two teams, which have immense respect for each other,” association general secretary Hironmoy Chatterjee wrote to the federation in an e-mail seen by reporters.
“Whether or not there is a security threat in Islamabad, the moods of the two nations are deeply affected and there is an undercurrent of tension, which is perhaps not being taken into account by the security agency of ITF in their assessment,” Chatterjee said.
The association has also asked the ITF to share the security reports from its assessment of the situation in Islamabad and to set up a call between their respective security consultants.
The association has named a six-member squad under Bhupathi for the tie on Sept. 14-15.
An Indian tennis team last went to Pakistan in 1964 for a Davis Cup tie, defeating the hosts 4-0, while Pakistan lost 3-2 on their last visit to India in 2006.