LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has dedicated the successful staging of the Pakistan Super League final in Lahore to the martyrs of terror attacks in the country.
Addressing the media on Monday to celebrate the victory of cricket over terrorism, he said Pakistan had won against terrorism, terming the PSL final a ‘grand defeat of anti-state forces’.
Shehbaz said the entire nation supporting two teams from Peshawar and Quetta showed national unity. “This match has paved the way for holding international cricket tournaments in Pakistan,” he said, adding that he has offered PSL Chairman Najam Sethi provincial government land near Lahore for building a new stadium with a much higher capacity than Gaddafi Stadium.
The CM admitted he was advised by many to reconsider the decision of holding the final match in Lahore. However, with the complete support of his team in Punjab, federal government and the army, he was able to make the match a success story.
He thanked his cabinet members and the provincial bureaucracy for working tirelessly for making the event successful. He also thanked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa for extending full cooperation and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar for sending a helicopter on a single request.
Shehbaz appreciated foreign players, exclusively Darren Sammy and Vivian Richards, for showing confidence in the government and flying into Pakistan.
During his address, the CM without taking any names accused the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf for spreading fear among the international players by expressing concerns regarding the event. Several players had backed out of the match citing security concerns.
“Our country in its true spirit has defeated terrorists in spreading fear and panic among them,” he said. Answering questions regarding the limited capacity of Gaddafi Stadium, he said Najam Sethi had agreed verbally for a much bigger stadium for which the PCB would spend money on infrastructure whereas the government would provide land for it.
Answering another question, Shehbaz said he chose not to attend to the final ceremony to avoid any comments about boastful gestures from the provincial government. He said the government did not want to politicise the event.
Earlier talking to reporters outside the Punjab Assembly, Law Minister Rana Sanaullah took a dig at Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq and Awami Tehreek’s Sheikh Rasheed for arriving at Gaddafi Stadium but not ‘succeeding in accomplishing their vested interests’.
“The PSL match is the victory of Pakistan. Terrorism was defeated by people’s bravery and enthusiasm,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2017.