ISLAMABAD  - Pakistani squash got a huge boost as Players Squash Association (PSA) finally decides to lift ban on international players’ participation in Pakistan. Pakistan players were deprived to play against world's top players at their own courts since 2008 when the PSA citing security concerns imposed ban on its members to play in Pakistan.

Addressing a press conference at Mushaf Ali Mir Squash Complex Tuesday, Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) senior vice president Air Vice Marshal Syed Razi Nawab, who is also the vice president of Asian Squash Federation, announced that hectic efforts of federation finally paid dividend as the PSA had lifted ban on international players and allocated an event carrying $25,000 prize money to Pakistan, which would be held in Islamabad from October 20.

Razi showed gratitude toward PSA, World Squash Federation, Asian Squash Federation, Jahangir Khan, Jansher Khan, Qamar Zaman and all others who stood by the federation during hard times and supported the PSF and said it could have been possible without all these people and bodies support.

He said the federation put a strong case in a meeting with the PSA board in January this year and PSA board members were left with no other option but to overturn the ban. “I am also very grateful to Alex Gough and all the PSA board members, who understand our point and very kindly agreed in principal to lift the ban. We received the PSA mail on Tuesday in which they informed us about PSA board decision, which is very encouraging sign and speaks volumes about the PSF hard work under the dynamic leadership of president Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt and without the all out help of Pakistan Air Force, the federation could not run even its day-to-day affairs.

Razi said the PAF was shouldering most of the financial burden of the PSF since early 50s. “Air Chief is very kind. Whenever we went and sought his help, he always helped out federation. I am also very thankful to President Mamnoon Hussain, who immediately released special grant for the federation and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who promised to help out federation in the best possible way.”

He said the first task of allocation of the PSA event was achieved and hoped that top professionals would turn up and make event a huge success. He said the federation would next try to allocation for the PSA events carrying prize money $50,000 or very soon but the federation needed financial help from private sector for the purpose. Razi said the federation was working on number of ideas for the improvement of the game in the country and taking active taking active measures in providing best facilities, PSA events and training camps to players. He said it was now time for the players to pay back and give improved results as players performance would boost Pakistan’s case further and the day was not far when Pakistan would start hosting major tournaments like past carrying lucrative prize money.

Razi said the PSF would hold two events carrying $10,000 in prize money and one event with $15,000 prize money in August. “Our main focus would be providing maximum PSA events to our players, who had capabilities to break into world's top 20 very soon. We were nowhere in world's top 100 players in the recent past but now our five players are in top 100 and Nasir Iqbal is in top 50. I would not make tall claims regarding breaking into top 20 very soon but it is my promise that we would slowly but steadily achieve this target. We are giving top priority to Nasir, Farhan Zaman, Farhan Mehboob and Aamir Atlas Khan who have the potential to shine and perform at the bigger stage. Holding the big events in the country would benefit these players and they would be able to raise the standard of their game while playing against the elite players, now playing against world's elite players at home.”