Indian team in Pakistan for boxing contest

Updated: 31 December 2009 15:03 IST

India sent its first sports team to Pakistan in more than a year on Thursday as a seven-member boxing team flew into Karachi to compete in a international tourn

Indian team in Pakistan for boxing contest

Karachi:

India sent its first sports team to Pakistan in more than a year on Thursday as a seven-member boxing team flew into Karachi to compete in a international tournament.

The boxers are the first Indian sports team to cross the border since India stalled sporting links with Pakistan after the November 2008 attacks on Mumbai, which New Delhi blamed on militants based in Pakistan.

India refused to allow its cricket team to tour Pakistan late last year, citing security fears.

Pakistan sent tennis, squash and snooker players to compete in India last year but New Delhi resisted sending its own sportsmen to Pakistan.

The peace process between the two nuclear armed neighbours, which have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, collapsed after the Mumbai attacks.

Head coach of the Indian boxing team, Shiv Singh, said the boxers were happy to tour Pakistan.

"We have been cleared by the government to take part in the event and all the members of the squad are very happy to be here," Singh told reporters at the airport in Karach, Pakistan's financial capital.

Mohammad Ali Shah, the sports minister in Sindh province of which Karachi is the capital, promised foolproof security arrangements in the wake of a suicide attack that killed 43 people in the city on Monday.

On March 3, an attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore killed eight people and wounded seven Sri Lankan players and a coach, all but destroyed Pakistan's hopes of hosting top-level international sport.

Three Indian boxers -- Sanjay Singh, Naresh Singh and Parnoj Singh -- will compete in the international event named after former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in December 2007.

The organisers expect around 20 teams to compete in the week-long contest, which begins with an opening ceremony Friday.

Singh said both India and Pakistan are doing well at an international level and need to compete against each other.

"Pakistan and India must compete against each other, more so that they can improve and win more laurels at the international level," said Singh. "We have come here with good preparations and want to win."

Singh shrugged off security concerns, saying he has faith in the organisers.

"We have no security concerns, the focus is on boxing and the rest is in the hands of our hosts."

Teams from Iraq and Afghanistan are also due to compete in the event in which Pakistan will field two teams.



Topics : Boxing
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