ISLAMABAD: Pakistani squash suffered a major setback on Wednesday as the British Consulate failed to return the British team’s travel documents to the Open, leading to the withdrawal of the Pakistani contingent from the prestigious junior event.
The Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) made every effort to secure the visas for the contingent in time, but despite best efforts, the consulate did not stamp the documents until July 19 (Tuesday) evening, resulting in the withdrawal of the quota.
Pakistan’s best player Hamza Khan, seeded No. 2 in the event, was ready to surprise the best in the event. Besides Hamza, Asian junior champion Noor Zaman, Mohammad Ashab Irfan and Anas Ali Shah were other members of the event.
“This is to inform with regret that the British Consulate in Islamabad failed to issue the visas to Pakistan Junior Squash Team in time resulting in the withdrawal of the team from the prestigious British Open. All our seeds had a good chance of surprising many. It would have been ideal preparation for the Junior Worlds from August 10 in France. We waited a long time, but the consulate could not issue the visas in time,” said one of the PSF officials when contacted.
The PSF applied for the team’s visa online on June 23. The team’s forensic expertise was conducted on July 2.
“Even 17 days after the end of the forensic examination, we have not managed to obtain a visa for the team, which is really surprising,” he said.
‘The News’ has learned that the Egyptian team also faced the same situation and also withdrew from the competition.
It looks like British Squash are more interested in helping Sam Todd get the title.
“Now that Pakistan and Egypt have pulled out of the competition, the British Open has practically become a local event.”
Asked by ‘The News’ whether the PSF approached the World Squash Federation (WSF), the organizers and UK Squash, he said all had been informed in time.
“We have sent a letter to the WSF, organizers and other relevant stakeholders. Our players have been deprived of their due. There is no justification as to why visas were not issued for departure in time for the significant event. There is no point in organizing such events if you cannot guarantee visas in due time. These juniors regularly participate in international competitions. Why an unnecessary delay, no one knows,” he said.
Hamza and Noor were drawn in different halves and were favorites to go all the way.
“The Pakistani juniors got a favorable draw for the British Open with Noor having all the potential to surprise all opponents participating in the Open, including Todd in the expected semi-finals. Hamza was playing at his best,” said the official.