By our correspondent
KARACHI: The Indo-Pak Express comprising Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and Rohan Bopanna has bagged another prestigious award for their peace mission.
The duo, who reached the US Open doubles final last month, were picked as winners of the Peace and Sport Image of the Year award during the 21st Georges Bertellotti Golden Podium Awards Monaco 2010.
Aisam is an ambassador of Aman Ki Asha and plans to play a match against Rohan at the Wagah border later this year in a bid to promote peace between Pakistan and India.
“The Peace and Sport Image of the Year Award will be given to the Indian Rohan Bopanna and Pakistani Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, two tennis players who managed to bring the political authorities in their respective countries closer, through their own history of personal friendship and commitment,” said a media statement issued by the Monaco-based World Peace and Sport Forum.
“Rohan (Hindu) and Aisam (Muslim) have played in a doubles team for three years and are building their careers together, in spite of historical hostilities that divide India and Pakistan. Motivated by their friendship, they decided to actively campaign for peace between their two nations.
“During several events on the ATP World Tour 2010, they wore warm-up gear displaying the slogan “Stop War, Start Tennis”, thus affirming their belief that friendship between India and Pakistan is possible,” it added.
“This initiative reminds us that sport is a universal language and it opens the way to dialogue, transcending political, racial, religious and social differences. It sparked unprecedented enthusiasm from the media.”
Joel Bouzou, President and Founder of Peace and Sport, declared: “The message of peace given by Rohan and Aisam is a unique source of inspiration for young people in their respective countries, but its significance does not stop there. They use their charisma and their sporting success to raise awareness amongst the entire international community, their fellow athletes and political authorities in their countries, as we saw at the US Open.
“Sport’s greatest victory is not measured in terms of medals. It is measured by its ability to positively change people’s lives and bring them hope. And that’s exactly what Rohan and Aisam succeed in doing. They demonstrate what champions can achieve when they use their celebrity for a good cause,” he stressed.
This year, for the first time, the winner of the Award for Peace and Sport’s Image of the Year was chosen by a public voting system on Internet.
The winning photograph, submitted by the ATP World Tour, won nearly 60 per cent of the votes.
The Award will be presented to Rohan and Aisam and representatives of their countries’ authorities during the Gala Evening of the 4th International Forum Peace and Sport, which will take place on December 2 in Monaco in the presence of Prince Albert II and 450 international leaders from the worlds of sport and peace.