ISLAMABAD - Pakistan is going to host the $50,000 Pakistan Open Men’s Squash Championship 2017 and $25,000 CAS Women International Championship from December 17 to 23 here at Mushaf Mir Squash Complex after a decade .

Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) secretary Group Captain Tahir Sultan announced this during a press conference held here at Serena Hotel on Wednesday. He said: “Besides Pakistan , a number of players from Egypt, Hong Kong, Malaysia, France, Australia, India, Ireland, Iran, Wales, USA, Spain and Portugal are participating in both the events.

“As part of plans to revive international squash and to bring laurels, Serena Hotels and Pakistan Air Force very kindly joined hand with the PSF as title sponsors for both the events. We heartily appreciate the Sports Diplomacy initiative shared by Serena Hotel as their integral part to build stronger relations with communities for the promotion of this sport. Pakistan has a tradition of excellence in many sports but competitive sports require the support of organisations through sponsorships and promotion,” he added.

When asked Pak players excel in local events, and flop in events abroad, Tahir replied: “As I said, we are focusing on not only revival of international squash , but also paying special attention towards achieving desired results. We will sit and take up the world team issue in the meeting, if the players have underperformed, we will take action. We have hired top class coaches and trainers, so it is players’ responsibility to deliver.”

The PSF secretary said: “We are optimistic about getting very high prize-money tournaments like $350,000 and more and not only Islamabad but also in Karachi, Lahore and even in Peshawar. With the help of our security forces, now each and every part of Pakistan is safe as any other place on earth. The PSA security representative is coming to Pakistan to witness security situation here during the Pakistan Open. I am sure he will see positives about the country and send a comprehensive and fact-based report, which will help in bringing more international squash in Pakistan . We have always given the best facilities and hospitality to international players and referees and we will extend the same to galaxy of stars, who are coming to the country,” Tahir said.

He said Senior Vice President Air Marshal Shahid Akhtar Alvi and squash legend former world champion Qamar Zaman Khan attended the WSF annual general meeting in France and they had very fruitful discussions with all the top officials of squash governing bodies, who have given assurances to take Pakistan case in the next meeting. “Pakistan is proud champion of squash and ruled the world for around four decades, but after 1998, our players didn’t produce those results, which were the specialty of Pakistani greats. Egyptians then prevailed and ruling the squash world now.

Now, the federation has been working tirelessly under the dynamic leadership of PSF president Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, who is putting tremendous efforts for the promotion of the game in the country. It is his and the SVP’s vision to bring back such high-profile events to Pakistan after a decade , while our players’ rankings have also been falling due to absence of international squash in Pakistan , so hosting such international events is a need of the hour,” he added.

Tahir said the federation has been striving to get maximum PSA for the country and also send Pakistani players abroad for international events. “We have been focusing on juniors for the last year or so and the results are exceptional. Now we have targeted British Open Juniors and then US Open and other major junior events. As far as seniors are concerned, we are investing heavily on them. Although Pakistan team didn’t perform well during the World Team Squash Championship in France, yet they tried hard to give out their best.

“Our academies have been working on international standards and I can assure all that in due course of time and with the help of PSA and WSF, we will start producing champions soon. Yes, we have not won any major title for around two or more decades, but it is also true that we have left no stone unturned to provide everything to our players, who couldn’t deliver for the country in a better way. But we are still hopeful, they will deliver and help Pakistan regain lost squash glory,” Tahir concluded.