Karachi:In a tit-for-tat response, Pakistan on Friday decided to call off its hockey team's tour to India for the four-nation Punjab Gold Cup tournament to be held later this month, citing "security risks for the players" as the reason for the cancellation.
The decision, which was expected after India scrapped its cricket team's tour across the border in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks, will further strain the sporting ties between the two countries.
Although Pakistan Hockey Federation was keen to send the national team to India, they left the final decision on the Foreign Office.
In view of the mounting tensions between the two nations, Sports Minister Jillani said the government had decided not to send the hockey team to India.
"There is a security risk in sending our players to India at this stage because of the mood in India. So we have not given permission to the PHF for the tour," he said.
Interestingly, Jillani's announcement came after the organisers of the tournament had already named New Zealand as Pakistan's replacement in the double-leg event that also features Beijing Olympic gold medallist Germany, the Netherlands and host India.
Pakistan's particpation in the tournament, to be held in Chandigarh from January 31, had come under cloud after Indian government cancelled the cricket team's tour to the strife torn nation.
There was popular sentiment among citizens and former players that since Indian government refused to send their cricket team, Pakistani teams should also scrap their India tours in a retaliatory move.