Even as chances of a cricket series between the arch-rivals look brighter, Pakistan have pulled out of next month's South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Cup in India. Pakistan's withdrawal, however, has nothing to do with the bitter political relationship with neighbours India. (India Scheduled to Face Pakistan in SAFF Tournament)
"I received an e-mail yesterday from the PFF saying it is withdrawing the Pakistan team from the SAFF Championship," said SAFF general secretary, Anwarul Haque Helal, adding that no official reason was provided for the pull-out.
India and Pakistan were clubbed in Group A along with Nepal and Sri Lanka. Group B included Maldives, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and defending champion and top-ranked Afghanistan. The tournament will be played in Thiruvananthapuram from December 23 to January 3.
According to a report in the Dawn on Monday, the Pakistan Football Federation has been crippled by groupism and power struggle. Due to controversial elections, the Lahore High Court has put on hold all activities of the PFF.
Due to a court order, Pakistan did not participate in any of the AFC and SAFF tournaments in recent times. The pullout from SAFF Cup is the latest blow to the country's footballers.
"They are never serious about football," a disappointed Pakistan captain Kaleemullah told Dawn on Sunday. "...shame on the PFF."