Pak Kabaddi team arrives, sans naval officer who was denied visa

The Pakistani Kabaddi team arrived on Monday through the Attari border to participate in the third edition of the World Cup Kabaddi being held in Punjab.

The 16-member contingent, with 14 players, a coach and a manager, crossed over to India around noon, even as Pakistani Kabaddi Federation Secretary General Muhammad Sarwar — a serving navy officer in Pakistan — was not given visa, believed to be behind the delay in the team's arrival.

While confirming that Sarwar was denied visa by the Indian government, Pakistani team Manager Mumtaz Ahmed said: "He was denied visa may be because he is a navy officer. Last year also, India had denied him visa for the World Cup Kabaddi. Sarwar is still waiting at the Embassy in the hope that his request for visa will be reviewed."

Punjab Kabaddi Association president and minister Sikander Singh Maluka had on Sunday told The Indian Express that denial of visa to a "retired army officer" was acting as a stumbling block for the Pakistani team to come to India. Ahmed, however, clarified that it was in reality a serving navy officer.

Pakistan team coach Tahir Wahid said while they had sought visas for 27 members, on 16 were allowed to come. "This is unfortunate. When the Indian team came to Pakistan recently, visas were given to 31 people. Besides our secretary general, two key players — Khalid Hussain Bhatti and Babar Waseem — were also denied visa. We got the passports today and after that left for India."

Wahid added that while players should not be subjected to such hurdles, they should be allowed to avail the option of visa on arrival at Attari.

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