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Whist the world is boycotting israel, a Pakistani tennis player teams up with an israeli and asks what all the fuss is about when his countrymen condemn his action!


Pakistanis condemn Israeli tennis link


BBC Sports News
29 June, 2002


Pakistan's Aisamul Haq Qureshi has been condemned by his country's sports officials for partnering an Israeli at Wimbledon.

Qureshi has teamed up with Amir Hadad and together they upset 11th seed Rick Leech and Ellis Ferreira on Friday to make it to the third round of the men's doubles.

Qureshi, a 22-year-old Muslim, created history with the help of Jewish Hadad by becoming the first Pakistani player to reach the third round of a Grand Slam event.

But instead of being celebrated back in his home country, officials are considering imposing a ban over his choice of partner.

"Although he is playing in his private capacity, we officially condemn his playing with an Israeli player and an explanation has been sought from him," said Pakistan Sports Board director Brigadier Saulat Abbas.

"Since Pakistan has no links with Israel, Qureshi may face a ban."

Qureshi was unperturbed by the controversy and is hoping his decision to leave politics on the sidelines will be seen in a positive light.

"I am surprised at the fuss being made over my partnership," he said. "I would like to be talked about for my tennis rather than politics.

"If we can change people's minds then that would be a good thing."

Qureshi played a key role in Pakistan's Davis Cup semi-final win over Taiwan in the Asia Oceania zone group II.

But his place in the team for their vital Davis Cup tie against China in September has been thrown into doubt.

"When players compete on the professional circuit they are not bound to national federations," Pakistan Tennis Federation President Syed Dilawar Abbas said.

"But we have sought an explanation from him and if advised by the government we may take action."

Saeed Hai, a former leading Pakistan player, also condemned his actions in the light of the current relations between the two countries.

"Due to the bloodshed in the Middle East, Qureshi's pairing with an Israeli player is wrong," he said.

But Pakistan's tennis captain Rasheed Malik spoke up in support of Qureshi.

"We should appreciate his progress in an international event rather than criticising it," Malik said.

"At times you have no option when it comes to choosing your partner and what he has achieved should be appreciated."

Making money

The 24-year-old Hadad also remained defiant against any criticism of their partnership.

"I don't care what people think about it," said the 24-year-old Hadad.

"As long as we enjoy playing together we will continue. When we agreed to get together it was all about doing well here, making some money and improving our doubles ranking.

"If we win here then I would dedicate the victory to my family and to peace.

"It would be good for those doubters to see that even though we are from different religions it is possible for us to work together and have some fun.

"A Jew and a Muslim playing together is not the end of the world. We are all human beings. We have the same blood, the same skin."


Pakistani Qureshi shrugs off threat

Reuters, London
July 2, 2002


Pakistani tennis player Aisum-ul-Haq Qureshi laughed off his government’s threats to investigate his pairing with Israel’s Amir Hadad at the Wimbledon championships.

Reacting to news that Sports Minister S.K Tressler would look into the politically contentious pairing that reached the third round, Qureshi said:

“I think if they (Pakistan) want to qualify for group one (Davis Cup) then I’ll have to play. I’ll be there to play. It’s going to be okay,” Qureshi told Reuters after he and Hadad lost 6-1, 7-6, 6-4 to seventh seeds Martin Damm and Cyril Suk of the Czech Republic.

“I don’t know what’s happening. No one has contacted me at all.

“Some people have said positive things. Some people have said negative things. But I think it’s going to be okay. I have a good relationship with them.”

Qureshi’s pairing with Hadad has drawn sharp reaction from the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) which has threatened to ban the player.

“The government will definitely approach this issue.

“As we don’t have diplomatic relations with Israel, we don’t recognise it,” Tressler told Reuters earlier.

“But it would be premature to say what we can do. All I can say is that Aisam’s decision to play with an Israeli was not morally correct.”

Qureshi, 22, has been Pakistan’s best player for the last two years, playing a key role in their recent Davis Cup semi-final win over Taiwan in the Asia Oceania group 11.


International Tennis Federation Warns Pakistan Against Reprisals

By: Steve Wilstein
Associated Press
July 6, 2002


The warning to Pakistan from the International Tennis Federation came wrapped in diplomatic language. The message was as blunt as an overhead smash: Back off. Pakistan's threats to punish its No. 1 player, Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, for playing doubles at Wimbledon with Israel's Amir Hadad were met Wednesday with a carefully crafted "reminder," as an ITF spokeswoman put it, of the federation's constitution. Discrimination won't be tolerated. Not on political grounds. Not on religious grounds.
The ITF warning came in a statement released to The Associated Press that suggested Pakistan could jeopardize its federation membership if it barred Qureshi from its Davis Cup team when it plays China in September. "The ITF understands the political sensitivity of this issue," the statement said. "But, as Davis Cup was founded with the aim of furthering international understanding through sport, we hope that the Pakistan Tennis Federation will choose Mr. Qureshi to participate in Davis Cup so long as his abilities warrant selection." It's a sure sign of the lunacy of the world when governments get hysterical about the dangers of men in white shorts hitting a ball over the net.

A Muslim and a Jew playing together? Frightful.
Instead of celebrating the success of Qureshi and Hadad, two fringe players who befriended each other scuttling around the tour and got to the third round at Wimbledon, the head of tennis in Pakistan denounced the pairing and demanded an explanation from Qureshi for his decision. Qureshi went further in a Grand Slam event than any Pakistani player in history, yet the Pakistan Sports Board is talking about suspending him. "We hope and expect that he would not repeat this mistake in future," Syed Dilawar Abbas, president of the Pakistan Tennis Federation, said in Karachi.

Abbas added that Qureshi had not obtained permission from his country's federation to play with an Israeli. Wimbledon is not Davis Cup and it's not the Olympics. Players compete here for prize money, titles and precious ranking points more than they do for national glory. Qureshi's family lives in Lahore, but he practices in Amsterdam with a Dutch coach and wanders the world like the rest of his nomadic tennis brethren. Pakistan's officials are agitated because the country doesn't recognize the state of Israel. But if Qureshi is barred from playing with an Israeli, should he also be barred from playing against one since that also might be tantamount to recognition of Israel and contradict Pakistan's foreign policy?

For that matter, should Qureshi be barred from doubling up with an Indian player because that could offend people on both sides of the nervous border back home and contribute to the threat of nuclear war? Pakistan, wedged between India and Afghanistan, is surely faced with many serious political issues. There's no reason for its leaders in government or sports to elevate Qureshi's choice of a tennis partner to an international incident.

All the fuss has left Qureshi understandably perplexed and "a bit shocked." His mother, Nosheen, the former No. 1 woman player in Pakistan, and his father, Ihtshan, a businessman, were with him at Wimbledon, videotaping the match and sharing his joy. Like him, they saw nothing wrong with the partnership between their son and Hadad. "I never thought it was going to become such a big thing," said the 22-year-old Qureshi. "We're not here to change anything—politicians and governments do that. "I am not a political person. I don't like politics, actually. (Hadad) never talks to me about it."

Hadad, 24, of Ramla, Israel, near Tel Aviv, said he chose to play with Qureshi for pragmatic, not political, reasons. "I know Aisam is very good on grass, has a good serve, good volley," Hadad said. "I pick him up only because of his talent and his skills in tennis. And I also like him as a person. It's always fun to be with somebody that you like on the court. We have fun together and that's it." If the politicians leave them alone, Qureshi and Hadad plan to play together again in the U.S. Open.

"It's the first time I've made it to the main draw of a Grand Slam with him," Qureshi said. "I wouldn't mind, for sure. I don't like to interfere religion or politics into sport." Hadad agreed. "We are good friends," he said, "and I think we're going to keep playing together in the future."