With less than a month to go for the Asian Championships in New Delhi, Pakistan is unsure of participating in the tournament as the Indian High Commission in Pakistan refused to accept the passports and visa applications of the team members and officials who were supposed to travel to New Delhi for the February 17-23 event.
“The High Commission refused to take the passport and said the time is too less to grant visa,” a Pakistan Wrestling Federation official told Scroll.in. “We still have 20 days for the Asian Championships.”
The Wrestling Federation of India had sent the invitation letter on January 20 and the PWF applied for the visa on January 23 but the High Commission refused to take the passports.
“The tournament is important for every wrestler as this is an Olympic year,” the official said. “We need to participate in the Asian Championships. We will write to United World Wrestling if the visa doesn’t come next week.”
The four Pakistan wrestlers who were supposed to travel to India were Muhammad Bilal, Abdul Rehman, Tayab Raza and Zaman Anwar along with two officials.
PWF is now waiting for an approval letter from India’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs addressed to Indian High Commission in Islamabad to take the passports and approve the visas.
The Wrestling Federation of India will also request the government to expedite the process of granting visas to the Pakistan squad for the tournament, like it had done for the Junior Asian Championships in 2018 when two wrestlers and two officials from Pakistan travelled to India.
This is not the first time that Pakistan sportspersons have been refused visa to India. Back in 2017, Pakistan wrestlers failed to participate in the Asian Championships in Delhi after they were denied visa. In the same year, Pakistan failed to send their squash team to participate in 19th Asian Senior Squash Championship which was held in Chennai.
Last year, India denied visa to Pakistan shooters for the World Cup in New Delhi in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack. The International Olympic Committee had then banned India from hosting any international events until a written assurance from government was given that no sportsperson will be denied visa.