ISLAMABAD    -   Pakistan tennis player Aqeel Khan has expressed displeasure over the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) decision regarding postponement of the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group-I tie against India.

In an interview with The Nation on Thursday, Aqeel said: “I don’t know why the ITF postponed the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group-I tie between Pakistan and India, which was scheduled to be held here on 14th and 15th of this month. After postponing the event, they made it clear that they will announce schedule of the tie on September 9, but still they are not looking clear at all.

If the ITF was completely satisfied with the security arrangements as per their statement, then what went wrong all of a sudden? Why they melt under Indian pressure and dealt Pakistan’s case differently? India should have arrived in Islamabad as per schedule and played the tie. If the ITF delayed the tie till 9th, then they must have announced next date of the encounter. Earlier, when Australia refused to play a tie in India, the ITF awarded that tie to India. But similar action is being delayed in our case.”

The 39-year-old further said: “The ITF must understand that players have to face mental pain, when such an important event is cancelled. We were preparing for last several months and a camp was almost started here. The Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) had arranged sponsors and completed almost 90 percent of the office work before the ITF melt under Indian pressure and delayed the tie. Now we have to do it all over again.”

“I also blame the PTF for mishandling the case. When a tie was earlier awarded to New Zealand, we almost succeeded in reverting that decision just because of PTF’s pressure and legal proceedings. When Salim Saifullah was aware of the situation, he should have used his influence to make sure either the tie is played or awarded to Pakistan.

Now there is no major tournament scheduled for preparing us in next couple of months. I had trained with Aisam in Europe just for the Davis Cup. If the PTF was aware about ITF’s likely decision last month, they should have arranged some tournaments to keep the players ready and fit. Now we will face dilemma of preparing backup of the national team. Only I and Aisam have vast experience, as I have given my entire life to Pakistan tennis and Aisam has always helped the country in winning major ties. I don’t know why the PTF Academy is not providing players. In other tennis playing nations, they hire best officials to run academies, but this is not the case in Pakistan,” he said.

Aqeel requested the PTF President to convince the world governing tennis body to hold the tie her as soon as possible. “I request the PTF President to put pressure on the ITF to hold the tie here as soon as possible or otherwise award it to Pakistan. We will give our best in case the tie is played. The PTF should also announce some tournaments and work at grassroots level to detect new talent. I am sure the tie will be conducted here due to highly satisfactory security situation of Pakistan, Aqeel concluded.