The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi not game for anything Pakistani

Calcutta, Dec. 24: The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government isn’t just opposed to bilateral cricket exchanges with Pakistan, it appears disinclined to encourage any India visit by an official holding the green-and-gold Pakistani passport.

A case in point is the treatment meted out to Zakir Hussain Syed (picture below), the Asian Cricket Council (ACC)-appointed Development Manager for the continent, who sought a visa to attend the ACC’s Development Committee meeting here on December 28-29.

The meeting will be chaired by India’s Jagmohan Dalmiya, who heads the Asian Cricket Foundation (ACF). Incidentally, development and fund-raising are overseen by the ACF, which complements the parent body. Syed is himself a former ACC secretary-general.

“I applied for a visa around 10 days ago and, yesterday, when my programme officer met the Indian High Commission’s visa counsellor (in Islamabad), he was told the ‘higher-ups’ had not issued any advisory on my application,” Syed told The Telegraph this evening.

The application was accompanied by a copy of a letter from Dalmiya. In the past, Syed never had to wait for an Indian visa.

Speaking from his Islamabad home, Syed said: “Surprised, my programme officer pointed out that unless the visa was quickly issued, I wouldn’t be able to attend the meeting. The counsellor’s response was that the high commission would revert if the ‘higher-ups’ got back to him….”

Faced with what amounted to a refusal, Syed contacted his own foreign office, where officials told him that it was India’s “prerogative whether or not to issue a visa”.

Disappointed, Syed said: “It’s very sad if all this is because of my nationality. In fact, only recently, our government had no qualms about issuing visas to Roger Binny and Dr Vece Paes, both of whom visited Lahore and interacted with our juniors.... I personally ensured they didn’t face problems of any kind.”

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