Lahore: Pakistan and on Wednesday rewrote another chapter in history of strengthening Pak-India Sports relations as Punjab Chief Minister, Shahbaz Sharif inaugurated the Punjab International sports festival amid festivity and colour as forty thousand spectators cheered the presence of twenty six foreign teams here at national hockey stadium.
Indian Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal was also a guest of honour at the inauguration of the 8 Day grand event and Dosti Cup for deaf and dumb teams. Chief Organiser of the Festival and Deputy Speaker Rana Mashood Ahmed Khan, Director General Sports Board and Youth Affairs Punjab Usman Anwar, the top officials of the province were present on the occasion.
The Punjab Chief Minister while welcoming Punjab Deputy Chief Minister’s efforts said that he was so enthused by the initiatives of Mr Badal that he would personally go as Chief Guest in the third edition of ensuing World Cup Kabaddi to be held in Bathinda on December 15, 2012.
He said that the ‘Joint Business Committee’ constituted by both Punjab’s would boost trade and commerce through Wagah border. Shahbaz Sharif said that 27 countries would vie for athletic (male) 8 events, athletics (female) 8 events, Badminton male and female, Football, Table Tennis male and female category in the sports festival which will bring closer people of different nationalities besides portraying a better image of Pakistan.
“ Pakistan and India would test their talent in Hockey, Kabaddi, Tug of War and Wrestling “, he said adding that after every two years “ Punjab Cup “ will be organized between the countries in biletyeral basis .
“ In Dosti Cup, Deaf and Dumb teams of India and Pakistan will clash in Cricket, Kabaddi, Wrestling, Badminton male and female, Table Tennis and Chess “,he said adding “ it was for the first time that a big contingent of 1381 players plus their coaches and managers have descended on the soil of Pakistan for these games.
Punjab Chief Minister and the Indian Deputh Chief Minister took salute from the contingents of as many as 26 Countries who participated in march past in their country colours. Commander Akbar Naqi, Station Commander Navy and Iran’s Ambassador Mohammad Saeed Asadi were prominent among the participants.
The Punjab International Sports Festival will give new dimension to the youth of the country. We are not talking about one city or a province but are talking about the whole of Pakistan,” said the CM.
“The efforts of the youth will send a soft image of the country in the world and showcase the talent the youth of Pakistan possess,” he maintained.
“This festival united the regional teams to one bound and improve the relations between the participating countries,” said Shahbaz Sharif.
He said it was the need of hour to better relations through sports and trade and work for the betterment of the region. “ Take the example of European countries they were engaged in battles for long time and now they have common interest in sports and trade and that is why Europe has emerged as a force to reckon with at international level.
“The Punjab International Sports Festival will give new dimension to the youth of the country. We are not talking about one city or a province but are talking about the whole of Pakistan,” said the CM.
As Shahbaz Sharif termed it a golden day in Indo-Pak Sports relations Sukhbir Singh Badal described it a historic day in the history of India
Speaking on the occasion, the Punjab Deputy Chief Minister said that he had been endervouring since last years to promote traditional games especially between India and Pakistan as he described sports as the most effective confidence building measure. Badal said that two World Cup Kabaddi Tournaments organized by Punjab Government has reiterated the resolve of people of both countries to regain the glory in traditional games of Asia and make collective efforts for that. He said that his five days visit to Pakistan was aimed at strengthening trade, commerce and sports relations between both countries and said that Dosti Cup would bring India and Pakistan together to hone their sports talent.
“ When I will go back to my country I will recommend my Government to organize such event which aims at promoting sports besides bringing closer people of different nationalities closer “,said the Indian Deputy CM.