India hits out at Pakistan for pulling out of 44th Chess Olympiad, says decision ‘highly unfortunate’
Hours before it was to take part in the 44th Chess Olympiad in Chennai on Thursday, Pakistan pulled out of the prestigious event protesting against the torch relay for the event in Kashmir recently. Interestingly Pakistan team had already reached India and the torch relay passed through Kashmir on July 21. Expressing surprise over its decision to withdraw, India criticized Pakistan for this move and said it is “highly unfortunate” that Islamabad has “politicized” the prestigious international event.
Citing India’s torch relay for the prestigious event through Kashmir on July 21 as a reason for withdrawal, Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said in a statement to Radio Pakistan, “India chose to politicize this prestigious international sporting event.” He also said, “Pakistan was invited by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) to participate in the Chess Olympiad. A Pakistani contingent was already training for this event.”
An official statement from Islamabad described the torch relay through Kashmir as a “travesty” and called upon India to free political prisoners in the valley. It is very interesting how Pakistan raised protests seven days after the torch relay in Kashmir while sending its team to India two days ago.
“Pakistan condemns India’s mischievous attempt to mix politics with sports. As a protest, Pakistan has decided not to participate in the 44th Chess Olympiad and will also raise the matter with the international Chess Federation at the highest level,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the statement. The torch relay passed through Kashmir’s capital Srinagar on July 21.
Reacting to Pakistan’s decision, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said it was surprising that Pakistan has suddenly taken the decision not to participate in the event. It is highly unfortunate that Pakistan has politicized the prestigious international event by making such statements and withdrawing its participation after its team has already reached India, he said.
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