Pakistani polo fanciers live on a separate playing field

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Despite its glamorous image, polo is often a rough-and-tumble venture, which is not surprising considering it was played by the likes of Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan.

In 1210, the ruler of medieval India, Qutubuddin Aibak, was killed while playing polo on a field in Lahore.

“It’s a very dangerous sport, but it’s a big high with a fast horse,” said Mr. Diwana, who was nursing a battered and bandaged wrist from an injury sustained during a match last month.

Before it evolved into a professional game, polo was used as a training exercise for army cavalry units. Military personnel once were among the top players in Pakistan, but that has changed with the sport’s burgeoning popularity here.

The Lahore Polo Club is also a place to be and be seen.

Many of Pakistan’s elite gather to mingle with the smart set, show off their fashion sense and, of course, watch polo. A few hundred spectators turned out on a recent Sunday for a charity match to raise money for schools in the Gilgit region of northern Pakistan.

The privileged few horse aficionados in this city of nearly 10 million say the polo matches simply offer a chance to step out on the town.

“There’s hardly any entertainment” in Lahore, said Noshima Saad, 40, who attended the match with her 24-year-old nephew Shihad. “We love horses, and we love watching polo.”

Kartem Nassi, 34, a former New Jersey resident and horse rider, said polo games provide an opportunity to link with friends in public.

“We meet here instead of always gathering in the homes,” Mr. Nassi said.

Miss Saad added that the club is not only a spot to see old acquaintances, but also a “lovely place to meet new people.”

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