The president of the Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) Major General (retd) Mohammad Akram Sahi has said that the federation is trying to make commitments with foreign countries so that a bunch of leading athletes could be sent abroad for training ahead of the South Asian Games to be held in India latter this year. “In response to our requests, China has regretted, but Jamaica and Kenya are yet to respond. Russia has asked us for more details,” Sahi told ‘The News’ in an interview on Monday. “We are also negotiating with the president of the athletics body of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and hopefully we shall receive a good response from them,” said Sahi, who recently contested the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) elections against Lt General (retd) Syed Arif Hassan and Qasim Zia on February 4. “If such a deal is made, then effort will be made to send six to eight leading athletes for training,” he said. It had been thought that the 12th South Asian Games would be held in India in December this year, but sources in India claim that the event has been delayed till February, 2013, due to logistic reasons. India will use the same infrastructure for the eight-nation spectacle that was used for the Commonwealth Games in October 2010. “My first target as the AFP president is to prepare a better lot for the South Asian Games. We want to give tough fight to India in the coming event,” he said. “Top effort will also bemade to further raise the standard of the game and our objective is to keep creeping up and we will try to beat India in the 14th South Asian Games to be held in 2016- 17,” said Sahi, who replaced General (retd) Safdar Hussain last year. In the first few decades after independence, Pakistani athletes used to impress at the Asian level because in that era they used to train in Germany and England formonths ahead of any international assignment. But after the practice was discontinued, Pakistan’s standard in athletics started falling. Sahi became the first AFP president to unveil his vision in the general body meeting in Rawalpindi the other day. Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Director General was also invited, but Amir Hamza Gilani, who is also a former national athlete, failed to turn up and instead sent his two referees to watch the proceedings during the meeting. POA’s new secretary Khalid Mehmood, also the secretary of AFP, was present in the meeting. “Currently, training camps are underway in Islamabad, Faisalabad and Sahiwal. The camp in Karachi is yet to begin,” he added. “Although, mostly junior athletes have been put in these camps as per advice of the PSB, I have instructed the organisers to put those seniors in these camps as well who are likely to feature in the South Asian Games,” theAFP chief revealed. “We are bound to keep 15 athletes and two officials in each camp, but if the PSB is not ready to support our seniors, AFP will bear their expenses from its own resources,” he said. Pakistan clinched four gold, two silver, and four bronze medals in the 10th South Asian Games held in Dhaka in 2010. “In order to build the side for the South Asian Games, the best athletes will be picked in almost every event at the end of the National Championship to be held in Karachi from March 28-30,” he said. “Although Pakistani athletes could not feature in the Iran event held a few days ago due to certain reasons, efforts are being made to ensure their participation in the indoor international competitions in China and then in Turkey in near future,” he said. “I am also seeking some sponsors. Every possible step will be taken to provide maximum exposure to our athletes,” Sahi said.