‘Head of state’ security for India’s Davis Cup team in Pakistan

The national Indian tennis team has travelled to Pakistan for the first time in 60 years

The Indian Davis Cup team

Eastern Eye

A BOMB disposal squad will sanitise the Islamabad Sports Complex every morning and two escort vehicles will shadow the Indian Davis Cup team as part of security arrangements, usually accorded to a head of state, to ensure the visiting tennis players’ safety and security.

The national Indian tennis team has travelled to Pakistan for the first time in 60 years, and naturally, the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) does not want to compromise on security.

The PTF is following the security plan approved by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

“Since an Indian team has come to Pakistan after 60 years, we are taking extra precautions. There are four to five layers of security around the Indian team. I, as event security manager, will be with them during travel,” said Colonel Gul Rehman, PTF secretary general.

The Indian contingent, with five players, two physios and two AITA officials, arrived in Islamabad last Sunday (28) night. “Escort vans are with the team during travel time, and they enter the hotel from the VVIP entry, which is reserved for a head of state. Bomb disposal squads sanitised the venue in the morning, and no one will be allowed to enter the venue. It will be a drill that will be followed throughout the tie,” Rehman said.

“Islamabad is one of the safest cities in Asia. And since general elections are approaching, security is already tight. Then there is air surveillance; there are around 10,000 cameras deployed in the city. There will be no compromise on safety and security of the Indian players.”

Teams representing the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB), Islamabad Police and traffic police are also involved in the operation. “It’s an honour not just for the PTF, but also for Pakistan to host the Indian team. We believe in sports diplomacy,” Rehman said.

While the Indian team is largely relaxed, it was clear the players would stay alert. “It is first time here. Yes, there are a few things that play on your mind. We have just heard things about Pakistan, so an image is created. It is too early to say anything about how it is being in Pakistan. Give us two days,” said one player.

Keen to play to their strength, Pakistan chose the grass surface, but the hosts won’t be able to exploit the home conditions to an optimum level since a maximum of 500 fans will be allowed to watch the action. “It’s tough. Apparently ITF, unfortunately, does not allow us to host too many guests or supporters for security reasons,” said Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi.