Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi’s life-changing speech

Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi’s emotional speech after losing in the

doubles final at the U.S. Open may be making a difference for

Pakistani sports.

Because of violence and terrorism last year, Pakistan has been

stripped of its right to co-host next year’s cricket World Cup.

International tennis and field hockey federations also have been

struggling to get other teams to agree to visit the country for

matches or tournaments.

But it looks like things are changing.

”After what happened in Lahore last year, it will be first time

when a team of ITF security officials will be visiting Pakistan in

the coming months,” Qureshi told The Associated Press, referring

to a deadly attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team’s bus en route to

a test match. ”Maybe it’s because of my speech at the U.S.

Open.”

Qureshi and Rohan Bopanna, from India, reached the final in New

York but lost to Bob and Mike Bryan, the top-ranked doubles team in

the world.

After the match, Qureshi spoke from the heart at Arthur Ashe

Stadium and drew a standing ovation.

”Every time I come here I feel there’s a very wrong perception

about Pakistan being a terrorist country,” Qureshi said at the

time. ”We are very friendly, loving and caring people and we want

peace in this world as much as you guys want. May Allah bless us

all.”

American tennis great Jim Courier, who was conducting the prize

ceremony, was impressed, saying the speech was ”beautiful.”

But problems remain in Pakistan. Suicide bombings have taken

hundreds of innocent lives as the country continues its fight

against Al-Qaeda. The government is also struggling to help about

20 million people after recent floods left them homeless.

Now, with the International Tennis Federation expected to make

its visit, Qureshi is hoping that Pakistan will be able to host

Hong Kong in the Davis Cup next year at Lahore.

”Lahore’s Defence Club is one of the venues and I am hopeful

that if everything goes well, we will see international teams

returning to Pakistan in other sports too,” Qureshi said.

Qureshi is currently in India for the Commonwealth Games, a

multi-sports event that brings together 71 countries and

territories from the British Commonwealth. He has already been

eliminated from the singles and doubles tournaments, however.

”The draws were pretty tough here,” said Qureshi, who lost to

Matt Ebden of Australia in the second round of the singles

tournament.

In doubles, he and teammate Aqeel Khan lost to Australian pair

Paul Hanley and Peter Luczak.

”My partner had to play in the doubles just three hours after

he finished his match in singles,” Qureshi said. ”Probably it was

asking too much from us in this heat and humidity of New

Delhi.”