KARACHI: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt won a crucial round of politics on Tuesday against two former captains, Shahid Afridi and Javed Miandad, when a meeting with President Asif Zardari that was supposed to pave the way for Afridi’s return to Pakistan team ended without any discussion on the subject.
An apparently disappointed Afridi left the Bilawal House without speaking to the media after the meeting that the President had with various sportspersons, including Butt, Afridi, Miandad and another former captain Moin Khan. An advisor on sports in the Sindh province, Haleem Adil Sheikh and majority of the news channels said that the President, who is also the chief patron of the PCB, had also granted Afridi some time to discuss his problems with Ijaz.
It was earlier assumed that in the meeting the President would ask Afridi to take back his retirement decision and the senior player would oblige and make his return to the national team. Unfortunately for Afridi and his supporters nothing transpired at the meeting that was beneficial for the former captain as according to the sources, the President solely concentrated on how the sports fraternity can help the government in raising funds for the flood victims.“During the meeting, Haleem Adil did try to bring up the issue of Afridi having some complaints against Butt but President just smiled and ignored his comment,” one eye-witness said.
“Even information minister Firdous Ashiq Awan tried to bring up Afridi’s issue but the President ignored her also and kept on talking about charity matches for the flood victims. After the group meeting, the President left without speaking to anyone individually, including Afridi,” the eye-witness added.Afridi, in recent past, has repeatedly said that he is keen to play for Pakistan again and there is pressure growing on him from his fans and supporters to make himself available for the national team. Appearing on a channel before the meeting when asked if he would take back his retirement decision if told to do so by the President, Afridi replied that he himself wanted to play for Pakistan again but would do so only if he would not have to compromise on his self-respect.
The eyewitness said that no discussion was also held on Miandad’s complaints against Butt. “If anything it appears as if the President plans to give Butt an extension as chairman of the board when his term expires next month. One can safely say that the President appears to have full confidence in Butt’s ability to manage cricket affairs.” Miandad was later asked by the media if he had discussed with the President his problems with Butt but he insisted that all problems would be resolved with time. – Nation