In a time when Pakistan suffers from a lack of sporting activity due to security threats, Indian ace cueist Pankaj Advani believes the country is safe and also very hospitable to host events.Advani, the poster boy for Indian cue sports, recently won the World 6-Red Snooker Championship held in Karachi and expressed his content at the organisation of the event. “Initially, I was apprehensive of going due to the [security] situation and a few incidents that took place while I was about to travel,” said Advani. “Former cricketer Wasim Akram’s car was shot. I was not keeping well but since it was a team event, I did not want to let my partner down.”
Advani was full of praise for Pakistan. “The hospitality was second to none. It was my third visit but this time around, the situation was different. I knew there won’t be any problems but due to the tension between the two countries, it definitely felt different.” The 30-year-old — winner of the Arjuna Award (2004), Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (2006) and Padma Shri (2009) — said that the support he received from the Pakistani crowd displayed the beauty of sports.
“As Indians, travelling to Pakistan when things are not stable between the two nations makes the whole situation unpredictable but that’s the beauty of sport — to cross barriers,” said Advani.
“The tournament was brilliantly organised and I found a lot of support from Pakistani fans when I was playing in the final against the young Chinese kid [Yan Bingtao]. Of course, we didn’t go out much but whenever we did, we didn’t face problems with security,” added Advani.