ISLAMABAD - Bowing down to the Indian pressure, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) deprived Pakistani spectators of witnessing the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group-I tie against India by shifting it from Islamabad to a neutral venue.

The ITF Davis Cup Committee took that decision on late Monday night. In the ITF statement, they claimed, “Following a review of the latest advice given by the ITF’s independent security advisors, the Davis Cup Committee has taken the decision that the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group-I tie between Pakistan and India, which was rescheduled on November 29 and 30, as earlier, the ITF had postponed the tie, which was to be held in September in Islamabad, has been shifted from Islamabad to a neutral venue.

In their statement, they further stated that the ITF and Davis Cup Committee’s first priority has always been the safety of athletes, officials and spectators and the decision was made on this basis. “As per the Davis Cup Regulations, the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) has now the choice to nominate a neutral venue and has five working days to confirm their proposed venue, which will be announced once the choice has been submitted and approved,” it concluded.

Talking to The Nation on Tuesday, legendary Davis Cupper and recipient of Pride of Performance Hameed-ul-Haq said, “I had already warned the PTF of another shock, when the ITF had postponed the tie in September. I was sure that the ITF would shift the tie to a neutral venue. It is because of non-technical and non-professional persons involved in the PTF. It is a huge shock for the tennis community and tennis lovers, as it was one of the weakest teams selected by the Indian Tennis Federation and Pakistan had bright chances of inflicting a huge defeat on the arch-rivals.

“The top four Indian players, including captain Mahesh Bhupati, had refused to travel to Pakistan. I was long requesting PTF President Salim Saifullah Khan to have mercy on tennis and let professionals run the affairs, as people, who had zero background of tennis, can’t help Pakistan tennis, but unfortunately no heed was paid. They consider me and all those, who speak truth, as their enemies. Being a top professional and winner of countless international and national titles, it hurts me and all those, who want to help Pakistan tennis and want players to flourish, but the federation is in no mood to use commonsense,” he added.

Hameed said, “I want to know why and on what grounds the ITF has made such harsh and completely unjustified decision. I think the ITF should have let the tie in September, as nothing was wrong in Pakistan and Islamabad, but it was a well-planned and well-written script by the Indian Tennis Federation and they were fully backed by the ITF.

“I strongly recommend the PTF to take up this issue at every available forum and as a protest, Pakistan should send a junior team for Davis Cup tie. We must not concede without a fight at all forums. It was never heard that the ITF bowed down under pressure but why only Pakistan has been singled out. It’s a simple question which the ITF has to answer and they must provide justice to Pakistan and its people, who love tennis and give so much respect to the visiting teams and individuals,” he added.

The former tennis great recommended the PTF to hire Aqeel as a head coach and Director PTF complex and academy. “Aqeel is the right person to produce results and champions in less than one year. But I am sure the PTF chief advisors won’t let Aqeel come forward, as it will end their monopoly. For the last decade or so, the girls and junior players failed miserably to provide even ordinary results.

“If we separate Aisam and Aqeel, the PTF and players performances are not more than zero. The PTF must answer that how many players they have produced for last 20 years. The PTF has to work on grassroots level to produce quality players, who may excel at international level and earn medals for the country,” Hameed concluded.