PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) claimed a moral victory over Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the still simmering Phateechar saga on Sunday when Peshawar Zalmi attended a lunch at the home of the 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 shrugged 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 said, 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.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2017.