By Sudipto Ganguly
MUMBAI (Reuters) – The All India Tennis Association will discuss its concerns over next month’s Davis Cup tie between India and Pakistan with security advisers from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) on Monday, AITA General Secretary Hironmoy Chatterjee has said.
Security representatives of the governing bodies will speak in a telephone call that will also be attended by India’s Davis Cup captain Mahesh Bhupathi, after which AITA will decide whether the Indian team travels to Islamabad, Chatterjee added.
The Indian side wants safety guarantees before traveling for the Sept. 14-15 tie, with tensions high between the neighbors after New Delhi removed “special status” from its portion of the contested region of Kashmir.
AITA wrote to the ITF on Wednesday to ask if the tie could be moved to a neutral venue or postponed after Pakistan last week expelled India’s ambassador and suspended bilateral trade and public transport links with its neighbor.
India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir since 1947 and came close to a third in February after an attack on Indian police by a Pakistan-based militant group resulted in air strikes by both countries.
Chatterjee told Reuters on Thursday that the ITF had shared security arrangements for the Indian team in Islamabad but had “not said anything” about India’s request to shift the tie out of Pakistan or postpone it.
“We have been given time on Aug. 19 for a telephonic conversation between the security advisors of the ITF and AITA,” he added. “We will take a decision after Monday’s call.
“We will try and explain to them the prevailing sentiment and tension among the people of the two countries. The security will be entirely provided by the Pakistan government which has already downgraded diplomatic relations with India.
“The ITF needs to understand that there could be a possibility of the security cover being withdrawn by the government due to public sentiment. In that scenario we will be just sitting ducks there. How can we take such risks?”
India’s sports minister Kiren Rijiju has said the government will not prevent the Indian team from playing the Davis Cup tie in Pakistan because it is not a bilateral series and is organized by a world governing body.
(writing by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)