ISLAMABAD: The quiet departure of Aqeel Khan, a top ranking national tennis player, to Sri Lanka has annoyed the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) which now says the top-ranking player never informed them before leaving Pakistan.
Aqeel left Pakistan for Sri Lanka the other day to train players in the island nation and would be staying in Colombo from June 15 to 18.
Irshad Bhatti, the official PTF spokesman, told Dawn on Tuesday: “Aqeel Khan is not in Pakistan as per our information. Besides he has also failed to inform [us], knowing that he has crossed the disciplinary guidelines of the federation.”
Irshad added despite this discipline issue involving Aqeel the federation still wanted to consult him.
“The move to train individuals in Sri Lanka was never in the knowledge of the federation,” said the official. “But we want to give him a patient hearing because he is No.1 in national rankings and we really respect him,” stated the spokesman.
Though, it is pertinent to mention that for any individual — sports athlete or official — a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) is mandatory before proceeding to any international destination and the NOC is issued by the Interior Ministry.
“Aqeel will be part of Pakistan’s Davis Cup team but he has to give answers to the federation,” the spokesman responded when asked about Aqeel’s inclusion in the Davis Cup squad.
The spokesman said a brief meeting with Aqeel after his return from Sri Lanka was very much needed to avoid breach of PTF’s disciplinary code in future and to set better examples for youngsters.
Pakistan are set to play Davis Cup tie against South Korea in July this year.
“The challenge from South Korea is tough and we firmly believe that Aqeel, Aisam-ul-Haq and two other players, to be selected after trials, will form a strong squad for the Davis Cup,” said Irshad.