KARACHI - A senior Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) official advised Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi yesterday to end his doubles partnership with Israeli Amir Hadad.
The pair hit the headlines at Wimbledon where they reached the third round of the men's doubles, causing consternation in some quarters back home.
"I think he can be forgiven for playing with the Israeli in the Wimbledon championships but he should not repeat the act in the U.S. Open in August," PTF senior vice-president Khawaja Saeed Hai told Reuters.
Hai, who himself was once Pakistan's top player and played at Wimbledon and in Davis Cup matches, said he believed Qureshi would commit a grave mistake by repeating his pairing act.
Hai said Qureshi was Pakistan's best player at the moment but even he should not expect to override national sentiment about Israel, which Pakistan does not recognize.
"He has to realize that for Pakistani Muslims, Israel is a very contentious and sensitive issue. It is not just about playing tennis," Hai said.
Qureshi created a stir at home by playing with Israeli Hadad in the doubles in which they lost in the third round to seventh-seeded Czechs Martin Damm and Cyril Suk on Monday.
Sports Minister S.K. Tressler said on Monday Qureshi's pairing with an Israeli was not morally correct and that the government would investigate the matter.
But the 22-year-old Qureshi shrugged off the threat and said if Pakistan wanted to qualify for the Davis Cup Group One they would have to play him.
"I would hate to see any strong action taken against Aisam and I think he should look at forming a new partnership for future tournaments," said Hai.
Qureshi, the second Pakistani to reach the Wimbledon doubles third round after former Davis Cupper Haroon Rahim in 1976 with an American partner, has been away from Pakistan for the last two months playing as a professional on the ITF circuit.
Hai also advised him to "stop talking too much on this issue", and said: "He might end up saying something which could create a lot of problems for him in future."
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