January 25, 2017
The federal government of Pakistan has announced plans to expand the development of baseball in the country as well as internationally, a decision welcomed by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC). The backing from the Pakistan government is in response to baseball/softball's steady increase in popularity in the country, which is currently ranked 24th of 72 nations in the WBSC Baseball World Rankings.
"It is a heartening sign that baseball is on a constant rise in the country, which is evident from Pakistan teams' performances in international events home and abroad," Pakistan Federal Minister for IPC Raiz Hussain Pirzada told reporters. Through a collaboration with the Pakistan Federation Baseball (PFB), the Pakistan Sports Board will support efforts to boost the Pakistan National Baseball Teams, to host international events and to explore the launch of the region's first-ever international league, which could potentially include clubs from neighbours Afghanistan, India, Iran, Nepal and Sri Lanka. "The government is ready to cooperate with [PFB] on all aspects," said Minister Pirzada.
"WBSC welcomes this exciting, high-level collaboration that not only immediately raises the profile of baseball in Pakistan, but also boosts the positioning of our growing global sport in this high-potential region," WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari said. "WBSC congratulates Pakistan Baseball President Syed Khawar Shah for his exceptional work, and we thank the Pakistan government for recognising baseball's steady growth and acceptance within Pakistan's sports community. Following the historic decision by the International Olympic Committee to include baseball/softball in the Olympic Games, WBSC fully expects to see a continued acceleration in new and strengthened baseball/softball activities around the globe leading to Tokyo 2020 and beyond."
Pakistan will be the focus of the upcoming XIII West Asia Baseball Cup 2017, as the nation welcomes the National Teams of India, Iran, Iraq, Nepal, and Sri Lanka to the Pakistan Sports Complex in Islamabad from 25 February to 1 March. The Pakistan minister urged the Pakistan National Baseball Team "to bring the nation glory" and defend Pakistan's status as West Asia Champions. Recent international highlights for Pakistan include the Women's National Baseball Team's historic debut at the Women's Baseball World Cup in Gijang, Rep. of Korea, and the Men's National Team's participation in the World Baseball Classic qualifier in New York.