Pakistan's World Cup winning field hockey goalkeeper Mansoor Ahmed, on Monday, reached out to India for help, in securing a heart transplant — despite years of breaking his rivals' “hearts on the field”.
The 49-year-old has been suffering, for weeks, from complications, stemming from a pacemaker and stents implanted in his heart. Ahmed has been a sporting icon in Pakistan, since helping the country win the 1994 World Cup in Sydney, with his penalty stroke push against the Netherlands in the final.
“I may have broken a lot of Indian hearts on the field of play, by beating India in the Indira Gandhi Cup (1989) and in other events, but that was sport. Now, I need a heart transplant in India and for that, I need support from the Indian government,” Ahmed said.
India-Pakistan ties, including sports and cultural contacts, plummeted after the 2008 militant attacks in Mumbai, which New Delhi blamed on Pakistani militant groups.
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Despite the strained ties, Pakistanis are eligible to apply for medical visas to India, renowned for its booming medical tourism industry.
Ahmed — who played 338 international matches, participated in three Olympics and various other high-profile events, in a career spanning from 1986 to 2000 — said that the visa could be a lifesaver.
“Humanity is paramount and I too would be obliged if I get a visa and other help in India,” said Ahmed. Sport has been one of the few avenues to improve relations between the arch-rivals, he added.
“We have had a great rivalry and sports have helped on a number of occasions, so that should continue,” said Ahmed. India has suspended most bilateral sporting ties with Pakistan, since 2008, with high-profile cricket tours bearing the brunt of the moratorium. They have, however, continued to play each other in multinational events, like the World Cup.