New Delhi: India's national hockey team announced Friday that it was calling off a series against arch-rivals Pakistan planned for next month amid growing tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
Narinder Batra, the secretary-general of Hockey India, said that the decision had been made at the instigation of the government less than three weeks before the start of a five-match home series.
Pakistan had also been due to host a return series straight afterwards. "The foreign ministry did not give permission (for the series)," Batra told AFP.
India and Pakistan had been due to play five matches from April 5-15 but the sport has now become the latest victim of tensions between the two countries, particularly over the disputed region of Kashmir.
Five Indian paramilitary police were killed in an ambush on Wednesday in Srinagar, the main city in the Indian-administered part of the territory. Indian officials have said the attackers -- who were themselves shot dead -- appeared to have come from Pakistan, despite denials of any responsibility from Islamabad.
The Indian government has also been angered by a resolution passed by the Pakistani parliament on Thursday, denouncing the recent hanging in Delhi of a Kashmiri separatist convicted of plotting an attack on the national parliament.
Several Pakistani hockey stars were forced to pull out of the inaugural Indian Hockey League in January following a spate of killings across the de facto border in Kashmir. The two sides last played a bilateral field hockey series in 2006 although they recently faced off in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup at Ipoh in Malaysia.
Both countries have won 11 Olympic field hockey titles between them and dominated the Games arena for decades, with India winning eight and Pakistan three.