The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pervez tames cricket chamchas
- Pay and watch, presidential order tells freeloaders

Lahore, Feb. 25: Pervez Musharraf may have critics, but the President appears intent on changing the face of Pakistan. He has already re-written many rules and, now, has targeted the “free loaders” who gatecrash at venues hosting Tests and ODIs.

In what is an absolute first in the region, the President’s office has directed provincial chief ministers, home secretaries and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to ensure that “no complimentaries” are issued beyond the mandatory requirement in the forthcoming engagements featuring India.

As the head of state, Musharraf is patron of the PCB.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, there’s a sub-section on “Free Loaders” in the two-page order which also covers security and visa norms. Apparently, the language is unambiguous and the message loud and clear: No chamchas, no relatives and no friends of those in authority.

In other words, no more free lunches.

“Actually, the directive couldn’t have come at a better time.... After all, everybody will be wanting complimentaries for such a high-profile tour. Now, the PCB can simply cite the order from the President’s office.... It has specifically said that those wanting complimentaries should be asked to buy tickets,” is how one source put it.

Complimentaries, one understands, are only going to be issued to the teams (75 each) and the sponsors — assuming there’s a contractual obligation on the part of the PCB.

In fact, security too will be improved as there’s going to be greater control on who enters the stadia. It’s not insignificant that Musharraf is himself taking “personal interest”, as another source pointed out, in the security that will be in place once Sourav Ganguly and Co. arrive here on March 10.

Meanwhile, back home, the Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI) in India has confirmed the players are going to be “briefed” by government mandarins before boarding a chartered flight from New Delhi. According to BCCI secretary S.K. Nair, the exercise (by the home and, possibly, foreign ministry officials) will be gone through on March 7/8.

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