Pakistan Government boycott Queen's Baton Relay on visit to Lahore

Friday, 18 October 2013
By Duncan Mackay

Former weightlifter Abdul Ghafoor, winner of a silver medal at Edinburgh 1970, took part in the Queen's Baton Relay when it visited Lahore todayOctober 18 - Pakistan's Government today boycotted a ceremony to celebrate the arrival of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton in Lahore during its international tour.

Syed Shahid Ali, the country's International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, also failed to attend the event which took place at Minar-e-Pakistan, Badshahi Masjid and Lahore Fort.

A short relay was then held around the city.

The Government refused to participate because the event was organised by the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA), who they are currently in dispute with, even though the body is recognised by the IOC and the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF).

They instead recognised a parallel organisation, the Pakistan Sports Body (PSB), who had tried unsuccessfully to hijack the event.

The decision by the Government not to take part meant that the recently-appointed Governor of Punjab, Mohammad Sarwar, who represented Glasgow in the British Parliament as an MP between 1997 and 2010, was also not present.

Arif Hasan, President of the POA, hosted the event while among those took part were Abdul Ghafoor, a former weightlifter who won a silver medal in the flyweight division at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, and his sons Abdullah Ghafoor and Mohammad Istiaq Ghafoor, who both took part at Delhi 2010. 

The Glasgow 2014 delegation included Hamza Yousaf, Scotland's Minister for External Affairs and International Development, whose father was from Pakistan.

The Queen's Baton Relay event in Lahore was hosted by Arif Hasan, President of the Pakistan Olympic Association, and attended by Louise Martin, secretary of the Commonwealth Games Federation and a Board member of Glasgow 2014The Queen's Baton Relay event in Lahore was hosted by Arif Hasan, President of the Pakistan Olympic Association, and attended by Louise Martin, secretary of the Commonwealth Games Federation and a Board member of Glasgow 2014

"The Glasgow Games 2014 have a special significance for Lahore," said Hasan.

"Although separated by thousands of miles, the links between the two cities are strong, as many thousands of British Pakistanis live and work in Glasgow.

"These strong links were further cemented when Lahore and Glasgow officially became sister cities in 2006. It is for this reason that we chose the city of Lahore for the Queen Baton.

"The Lahorites want to build on these links further by inviting Glaswegians through the Queen Baton to be a part of the spirit of Lahore.

"The Queen's Baton Relay offers an unparalleled opportunity to showcase our nation and our territory to the Commonwealth family.

"The Queen's Baton Relay brings with it a message of peace.

"It also brings with it a message for the Youth - the leaders of tomorrow.

"It tells them to rise above for the development of humanity, for the development of the values so essential to mankind.

"So to our athletes, to our youth I say develop yourself, your passions, and your talents.

"Think what you would like to do with yourself, and set goals for yourself.

Pakistan's karate player Benish Akbar took part in the Queen's Baton Relay as it visited LahorePakistan's karate player Benish Akbar took part in the Queen's Baton Relay as it visited Lahore

"Learn through sport and through sports develop in yourself the leadership qualities so essentially required for our tomorrow.

"You, are our tomorrow,"

The Baton is now due to travel to Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, where Glasgow were awarded the Games at the CGF General Assembly in 2007, ahead of Abuja.

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