By Kiran Butt
LAHORE, Pakistan (AA) – Pakistan's blind cricket team will miss the 3rd edition of the T20 World Cup for Blind after India rejected visas for the players.
The team's visa was denied by India on "political grounds," according to a statement issued by the Pakistan Blind Cricket Council (PBCC) on Tuesday.
Pakistan was scheduled to play South Africa on Tuesday, the second day of the tournament being played in India, which will conclude on Dec. 17.
The council expressed disappointment with the neighboring country’s decision, saying it has “left the team in a lurch,” pointing to the teams' performance in the tournaments held in 2012 and 2017, in which Pakistan finished runners-up.
“It was highly likely that Pakistan and India would have locked horns in the final of the ongoing World Cup and considering the current form of Green Shirts, Pakistan had a high chance to win the World Cup,” reads the statement.
Only a day before the announcement, Indian media stated that the Pakistani team would soon receive visas and that the Indian Ministry of External Affairs is working on this.
“The PBCC strongly (condemns) this discriminating act of India as sports should be above regional politics… Our counterpart Blind Cricket Association in India pleaded (with) their government for Pakistan’s clearance but nothing was heard,” said the statement.
The council vowed to take stern action and ensure that India does not host any international events in the near future due to violations of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed regret in a statement about the non-issuance of visas to its blind cricket team.
The Indian decision would deprive Pakistani players of the opportunity to compete in an international sporting event of special significance, according to the statement, which blamed India for "insensitivity towards the promotion of sports meant for differently-abled persons."
“The sports events must not be politicized,” the statement said, adding that “we have conveyed our disappointment to the Indian side.”