PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) scored another moral victory against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the phateechar saga when Peshawar Zalmi on Sunday attended a lunch at the home of prime minister’s adviser Amir Muqam.
Meanwhile, although speculation remains that the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2017 champions’ players refused to attend an event hosted by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Pervez Khattak because of PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s comments regarding the quality of players in the PSL final, franchise owner Javed Afridi said the players just wanted a break.
“The players have been busy for over a month and wanted a break. That is why Zalmi players could not go to the chief minister’s house last week,” Afridi told media persons. He also shrugging off rumours that the Zalmi management refused to accept a Rs20 million reward from CM Khattak, summing it up by saying “any awards or rewards we get will be spent on poor people”.
Afridi said the PSL was a success because it achieved all its objectives including “sending a softer image of Pakistan to the world”, adding he could not share the hardships they faced during their “missions”, but would share the success story with the United Nations.
He stated that despite the volatile law-and-order situation in the country, they were happy that international players were willing to come to Pakistan, adding that international players also wanted to visit Peshawar, but their busy schedules with other leagues got in the way.
“We are now planning a hockey league as well after Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa assured us of his support,” he informed, adding that the country can expect good news on this front very soon.
Muqam started his speech by taking a swipe at Imran Khan, even though he did not directly name the PTI chief. “The ones who made fun of international cricketers were actually making fun of the nation. The entire nation gave ‘him’ a message to show others respect,” Muqam said.
He stated that despite several people being against holding the PSL final in Pakistan, international players made it to Lahore. He said that through the success of the event, ‘A message has been sent to the international community that Pakistan is a peaceful country.”
Afridi was accompanied by Muhammad Akram and a number of younger players from the Zalmi squad, while FATA MNA Shah Jee Gul Afridi, PTI MPA Ziaullah Afridi, and PML-N lawmakers from the provincial legislature were also present.
Earlier, at a brunch at governor house in honour of the players, K-P Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra emphasised the importance of sports in peacemaking. He said the federal government is encouraging sports in FATA and is constructing sporting facilities there to help improve the global image of Pakistan.
He was hopeful that a team exclusively made up of players from FATA would participate in upcoming PSL tournaments so that local players can have a chance to test their skills against international players.
Afridi and most of the same players and staff attended here as well, as did Muqam. The K-P inspector general of police, FC commandant, and Commissioner Fakhr-e-Alam were also in attendance.
The governor welcomed the participation of foreign players in the PSL and said that the successful final in Lahore will pave new ways to not only populate cricket grounds but also reinstate other sporting activities in Pakistan.
While highlighting the importance of cricket, in particular, he said the sport is very close to the people’s hearts and bringing the final to Pakistan meant that the organisers not only won the hearts of the people of Pakistan but also united the nation.
He applauded the army and law enforcement for ensuring the success of the event.
“As a nation, we have proven to the world that we are not isolated anymore. The shroud of fear has passed and the militancy defeated. It was not only a victory for Peshawar Zalmi but also a victory for Pakistan.”
While commending the player and organisers of the Zalmi squad, he said foreign cricketers should be encouraged to play in Pakistan. Jhagra later presented a shield and a traditional turban to Javed Afridi, while Afridi gave a trophy to the governor on behalf of his team.
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