In a recent turn of events, the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) has appealed against International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) decision to shift the Pakistan-India Davis Cup encounter to a neutral venue from Pakistan’s Islamabad. The argument put forward by them is that if thousands of Indian Sikh pilgrims can visit the country, then even the 10-member Indian tennis should also come and play the match in Islamabad itself.

It is worth highlighting that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the 4.2 km-long Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on Saturday and will send the first lot of pilgrims to visit Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan’s Punjab province on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev on 12 November, Tuesday.

“Every year, many Sikhs come here (to Pakistan). A large number of Indian Sikhs are all set to visit the country for celebrating the 550th birthday anniversary of the founder of Sikhism, Baba Guru Nanak in the next few days,” PTF president Salim Saifullah told Dawn as quoted by IANS.

“Considering this, why a 10-member Davis Cup team comprising players and officials is reluctant to visit Pakistan,” he added.

He even labelled the ITF decision to shift the venue of the Davis Cup encounter highly disappointing.

The ITF had earlier shifted the Davis Cup encounter from Islamabad to a neutral venue and also stated that the matches will be held on 29 and 30 November.

“Following the review of the latest advice given by the ITF’s independent security advisors, the Davis Cup Committee has taken the decision that the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group I tie between Pakistan and India on November 29-30 must be played at a neutral venue,” the ITF had said.

It further added, “the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) has the choice to nominate a neutral venue and has five working days to confirm the proposed venue. The venue will be announced once the choice has been submitted or approved.”

Notably, the tie had been earlier scheduled on 14 and 15 September but was postponed to November post a security review by the International body in August. The postponement had come after India had repeatedly requested to shift the match to a neutral venue or postpone it because of the tensed situations between the neighbouring countries.