ISLAMABAD - Former Davis Cupper Hameed-ul-Haq has said the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) does not have any influence on the International Tennis Federation (ITF), which led India to convince the ITF to postpone their Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group-I tie against Pakistan.

The Pakistan-India tie was scheduled to be played here on September 14 and 15 but India succeeded in influencing the ITF to delay the game.

In an exclusive interview with The Nation on Friday, Hameed, who is also a recipient of Pride of Performance award, said: “Indian lobby always succeed in using political pressure, as they always try to involve politics in sports. I am not surprised by the ITF’s decision at all, as Pakistan does not have any influence in the world governing tennis body.”

“The decision regarding date and venue of the tie will be made on September 9, and I think that the ITF might go for neutral venue. The decision of neutral venue would be harsh for the people and players of Pakistan, who were eager to take on India at home after a very long time. I do not think that security issues between the countries led the ITF to postpone the tie,” the former tennis player added.

“Prior to this, India had to shift Indian Premier League abroad due to bomb blasts, but the ITF ignored the situation and rejected the Australian Tennis Association’s request of conducting their tie against India at a neutral venue and awarded the tie to the hosts. I think similar decision should be made in Pakistan’s favour as well,” he said.

Hameed also talked about the security standards of Pakistan and aggressive attitude of Indian government. “Pakistan is much safer than any other part of the world. Islamabad is the second safest city in South Asia, as not a single minor untoward incident occurred in the capital. Pakistani government had given full assurance to the ITF regarding top class security to Indian delegation and ITF officials. The ITF must also understand that Indian government always tries to sabotage normal relations, as they recently started killing innocent Kashmiris,” he said.

“Pakistan is a sports-loving and peaceful country, and we know how to respect and provide hospitality to teams and officials. Pakistan was awarded walk over by the ITF when Hong Kong refused to come to Pakistan for a tie in 2017. That is why Thailand, Korea and Uzbekistan teams tour and play ties in Pakistan, but India is exceptionally treated by the ITF,” the former Davis Cupper said.

Hameed further added: “It is quite strange that ITF security officials had issued a statement few days back regarding satisfactory security arrangements in Islamabad, but then the ITF changed its decision. I am shocked that the ITF announced postponement of the tie without any reason, which is very unfair.”

“I strongly recommend that the PTF must use all platforms and plead its case. Otherwise, the PTF must be prepared for another huge shock, as the ITF may bow down under Indian pressure and schedule the tie at a neutral venue. Any neutral venue will affect Pakistan’s performance against strong Indian team,” Hameed added.

The former player also appealed to Prime Minister Imran Khan to come forward and take up this case at relevant forums. “I request Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is a renowned sports personality and world cup winner, to take up the case at all available forums to protect Pakistan’s right of hosting the tie.

“The PM is the only ray of hope for the people and sports fertility of Pakistan, as Indian lobby is influencing everywhere and Pakistani athletes are suffering badly. I am confident that the PM will play his role and the ITF will take decisions purely on ground realities, rather than political pressure,” Hameed concluded.