ISLAMABAD - India’s World Squash Federation (WSF) referee Srikanth Seshadri has said that Pakistan-India should resume rivalry on sports grounds, instead of talking about war.

Srikanth was nominated by WSF to referee at $25,000 CAS International Squash Championship 2016 here at Mushaf Squash Complex. In an interview with The Nation before his departure to India, Srikanth said his visit was really remarkable and he wanted to visit Pakistan again. “Pakistan is like home coming. I already travelled to Pakistan in 2012 in Lahore and not only played in the Masters Squash Tournament, but also was a referee in the prestigious event. Although, I lost in the first round, but I could never forget the love, respect and hospitality of Pakistanis and Punjab Squash Association (PSA).”

He said soon after hearing about the CAS International Tournament, he though to get a chance to relive those great memories of 2012. “I immediately offered my services regarding officiating the event and requested the WSF to consider me for this event. I am very obliged to Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) for inviting me and providing me with the opportunity to conduct matches.

“I was also given the honour of refereeing in the mega final, which was really wonderful experience for me, as I got the chance to witness high-quality squash. The federation, local people, fellow referee colleagues, media and all involved in the event, gave me so much love, respect which can’t be forgotten. Although there was a huge pressure on me to referee an international event, but I really enjoyed my duty,” he added.

Srikanth said Islamabad was arguably one of the most beautiful places on earth. “The federation took very good care of us and especially me. Frankly, I was not expecting such a wonderful hospitality in a time, when tension between the two neighbours at the borders is on its peak. Serena hotels management and staff also provided us with best meal, accommodation and I am planning to come again next month for the 4th and last $25,000 International event, which the PSF is going to host.”

To a query regarding a message for the people and government of Pakistan and India, Srikanth said: “My message is very simple and that is love and peace and we should join hands to promote peace and harmony between the two neighbours. I will strongly recommend Indian government and people to kick start sporting relations with Pakistan. The people of both sides want to see their favourite players in action starting from cricket, hockey, kabaddi and other sports.”

When asked how difficult it was to perform duty as referee in Pakistan, Srikanth replied: “Absolutely not, I enjoyed complete respect and command among the players and crowd. Everybody stood up from their seats and appreciated me, whenever I was given assignment of chair referee, even in high-profile matches. I got respect from the players and fellow referees. I hope India and Pakistan governments must understand the feelings of both countries’ people and shun differences and join hands to work for betterment of their people.

“From people to people, there is no tension, but there are a few issues at governments level, but they should sort out those issues and let both sides of people enjoy cordial and friendly relations. Pakistani hockey and kabaddi players had played in Indian leagues like cricketers in the past. I hope these relations would improve very soon and we would be able to see Pakistani stars playing in India and Indian stars playing in front of Pakistani fans,” Srikanth concluded.