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Pakistani equestrian refuses to change name of horse from 'Azad Kashmir'

Pakistani equestrian refuses to change name of horse from Azad Kashmir

Sarah Waris

Published: 9 Feb 2020 10:58 AM GMT

Days after the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) raised concerns over the name of Pakistani equestrian Usman Khan's horse, the rider has refused to budge and stated that trivial issues refuse to divert his mind from doing well for his country at the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Named 'Azad Kashmir' or 'Free Kashmir', Khan's horse has been in the midst of controversy with the IOA questioning the legitimacy of the name and stating that it goes against the Olympic Charter's Rule 50 that states, "no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas”.

With India's Fouaad Mirza competing at Tokyo alongside Khan in the equestrian event, the name of the horse could potentially stir up emotions, but the Pakistani has stated that the name was given to his horse long before the Indian government revoked Article 370 in the state of Kashmir. The northern state has been in lock down after the Narendra Modi-led government revoked the special status that had been given to Kashmir in August 2019.

It’s a trivial issue really. My intentions are very clear. The horse was not named in response to the lock down in Indian Kashmir,” Usman told the ‘Dawn’ newspaper.

However, the IOA is of the view that 'Azad Kashmir' refers to the region that has been invaded and occupied by Pakistan back in 1947. India calls this region as 'Pakistan Occupied Kashmir' (PoK), and Khan's horse, thus, is a direct breach of the Olympic Charter.

Khan, however, did admit that he changed his name from 'Here to Stay" after purchasing him in Australia in April 2019. "After purchasing it, I renamed it as I have done with most of the horses in my stable. This name change alone costs USD 1000 and it should fit the criteria set by international and local bodies,” he said. He added that he names his horses after the areas in Northern Pakistan as it helps him establish a stronger bond with his motherland. The Australia-based Khan's first horse was named Al-Buraq.

The first Pakistani equestrian to qualify for the Summer Games is now only focused on doing well in Tokyo, and is hoping to get sponsors for the event.

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