New Delhi, April 4 (IANS) Citing security concerns, the external affairs ministry hasn't approved an Indian hockey team's tour to Pakistan for a three-nation meet also involving Malaysia, Hockey India (HI) said Wednesday.
India were supposed to play in Pakistan in what was originally a four-nation meet also involving South Africa in Lahore April 9-13. The tournament was later reduced to a three-nation affair after South Africa pulled out.
In a statement, HI said: "The Ministry of External Affairs has sent a communication Tuesday conveying that in view of the security situation prevailing in Pakistan, the visit of the team would not be advisable unless backed by credible high level assurances of security from the Pakistan side."
HI also said that it was surprised with its Pakistani counterpart's announcement that India had withdrawn from the tournament even before the decision was taken.
"India's participation in this tournament was approved by the Steering Committee of the Sports Ministry last month and accordingly the development side was selected," the statement said.
The flight tickets to Lahore were also booked immediately thereafter.
"In view of pending mandatory Ministry of External Affairs and Home Ministry clearances, telephonic conversations took place between Mr. Batra and PHF president Qasim Zia on 2 April 2012 where it was decided that if no clearances came before the departure of team to Lahore, then fresh dates from 14-21 April 2012 would be considered for this tournament," the HI statement said.
HI said it was astonished at the unilateral statement issued by PHF secretary General Asif Bajwa stating that the Indian team had withdrawn from the tournament.