Calcutta: Arun Jaitley, leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and president of the Delhi & District Cricket Association, must be very relieved.
Jaitley has been spared the embarrassment of hosting former Pakistan captain and coach Javed Miandad, who has forged family ties with the most-wanted Dawood Ibrahim, the D-Company’s boss.
Having got the visa, Miandad was to have been present at the Kotla on Sunday, during the third and final ODI.
It would have been embarrassing for Jaitley as his party, the BJP, has made a big issue of the visa. Predictably, the Shiv Sena too.
However, five days after The Telegraph broke the story that Miandad was set to make his first visit to India after son Junaid’s marriage to Dawood’s daughter Mahrukh, in July 2005, he has called off the trip.
During his playing days, Miandad never took a backward step. But, this time, he got caught on a vastly different pitch.
There has, of course, been no word from Miandad. Possibly, because he has been asked by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to stay quiet.
Miandad is the PCB’s sole director general, an unusual position in a sports body.
Nobody is going on record, but there’s relief in more than one quarter.
“Controversy se baach gaye... It’s good that Miandad is not coming. But if people in India are equating him with Hafiz Saeed, then there’s something terribly wrong. He’s no terrorist,” a Pakistan high commission official told this Reporter.
One of the former India cricketers who played against Miandad, quipped: “The wily chap got smart... What if he’d been held hostage in India and released only in exchange for you know who!”
A fellow-Pakistani and contemporary said: “Hungama ho jata... I’d always been skeptical. Let cricket be about cricket only. Miandad has taken the right decision.”
The PCB chairman, Zaka Ashraf, seems to have had a hand in conveying the “appropriate message” to Miandad. Basically, that the latest Revival Tour shouldn’t end on a sour note, with the media focusing on him and Dawood, not on the cricket.
Ashraf caused confusion on Thursday, when he announced that Miandad hadn’t applied for a visa, even as India’s foreign minister Salman Khurshid was defending its issuance!
Moreover, 24 hours earlier, Miandad had himself confirmed the visa bit. Obviously, that was before the “appropriate message” had been conveyed to the 55-year-old.
Ashraf, a sugar baron, has close links with the ruling Pakistan People’s Party and has direct access to President Asif Ali Zardari.
In keeping with tradition, Zardari is the PCB’s patron-in-chief.
While the two-match T20 series ended 1-1, Pakistan have taken a winning 2-0 lead in the ODIs.