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Olympics torch relay honour for Pakistan: POA chief
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The well-organized and trouble-free Beijing Olympics Torch Relay in Islamabad on Wednesday has yet again established Pakistan's ability to hold international sporting events in a satisfactory manner, President of Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) said Thursday.

"The entire world was witness to our organizing abilities as the torch relay was shown live internationally", Syed Arif Hasan, President of POA told reporters here.

"The Beijing Olympics torch relay in Islamabad was diligently organized and its successful culmination should be an honor and pride for our people," Arif said.

A spectacular torch relay was held in Islamabad on Wednesday with dazzling fireworks, folk cultural shows, torch-carrying by the country's former sporting stars such as Jahangir Khan, Hassan Sardar and Samiullah and a stunning performance by a Chinese cultural troupe, official Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

"There was no problem of security during Olympic torch' stay in Islamabad," Arif said. "Even our Chinese friends who came with the Olympic torch were impressed with the way the different ceremonies of the torch relay was held."

Both the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan attended the Torch Relay.

Arif said the Torch Relay would help attract the youth towards sports which were the best ambassador abroad for a country and its people. He also disclosed that the government had released a grant of eight million rupees (around 127,000 U.S. dollars) and had also promised more for staging the torch relay, which was the first time since 1964 when Olympic torch visited Pakistan.

The Beijing Olympics Organizing Committee selected Islamabad as one of the 21 cities outside China's mainland for the torch relay.

Arif said a wild-card entry in shooting had already been given to Pakistan for the Beijing Olympic Games while hockey would be Pakistan's main hope for an Olympic medal.

(Xinhua News Agency April 17, 2008)

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