ISLAMABAD      -   Pakistan international tennis star Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, along with longest serving No 1 tennis players Aqeel Khan, has taken very bold and principle stance as they have refused to bow down under International Tennis Federation (ITF) unjust decision of shifting the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group-I tie, which was scheduled to be held this month against arch-rivals India in Islamabad, and decided not to play Davis Cup tie at the neutral venue in protest.

Talking to The Nation, Aisam (Sitara-i-Imtiaz) said: “The ITF decision has nothing to do with ground reality nor it is taken in the best interest of tennis while there was also no life-threatening situation to both the countries’ officials and players as the ITF’s decision was purely taken on political basis. Pakistan is hosting countless international events, National Games were held in Peshawar in very peaceful manner, while Yonex Sunrise International Series Badminton Championship was held recently in a highly cordial manner, in which players of 12 countries took part.

“When there is nothing wrong when it comes to security, then why and on what grounds the ITF is not satisfied and what are the actual reasons behind shifting the tie to a neutral venue. The reason is very simple that the Indians had played dirty politics as they are the aggressors and entire world is aware what they are doing in Indian Held Kashmir with the people of Kashmir, so they just want to hide their brutalities and want to punish Pakistan for raising voice for innocent Kashimiri people,” he added.

Aisam further said, “Let me made it very clear to international community, ITF and all the sports playing nations that it is a huge disrespect to Pakistani people, who are very peaceful and sports-loving and there hospitality is well-known to all. If thousands of Indians can come to Pakistan through Kartarpur Corridor on daily basis, what is wrong in sending only five players and officials to Pakistan to play Davis Cup tie. It is really a big disrespect to the armed forces, police, security agencies and government of Pakistan.

“The way our armed forces have given sacrifices and peace has fully returned to Pakistan, it will be highly unjustified to even think about representing the country at a neutral venue. I feel it is not only disrespect to our people and security agencies, but will also be against the sacrifices given by the Kashimiris. I have always played for Pakistan. When I was partnering Israeli player, I had to face massive pressure, but I took principle stance that sports doesn’t have boundaries and when Indian player Rohan Bhopana was my partner, I went through same pressure, but I absolved all pressure for the sake of tennis and humanity,” he asserted.

The international tennis star said, “If Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) can’t boycott the tie at a neutral venue due to one or another reason, I can take principle stance. I won’t play at a neutral venue and I stand by the people, armed forces of Pakistan as I have complete belief in my armed forces and I know they are more than capable of providing the Indians and Pakistani players and officials foolproof security.  “I must stress that I am always very passionate about representing my country in Davis Cup ties but this time around it is more important that I stand up for the honour and dignity of my country by refusing to accept an incorrect unjust and undesirable decision. The PTF President, its council members and Pakistani people are requested to kindly understand my stance. Long live Pakistan!” Aisam concluded.

Aqeel also expressed similar sentiments on shifting the Davis Cup tie against India at a neutral venue. “When Pakistan is hosting international sporting events regularly and also the government is assuring the Indian players and officials of foolproof security, then I think they must have visited the country to play tennis here.”