Punjab’s Azhar Mehmood yet to get visa
Mohali, Apr 12: The cat is finally out of the bag. Azhar Mehmood, the former Pakistani all-rounder, now a British passport holder, is yet to get an Indian visa to play for Team Punjab in the IPL.
Mehmood’s absence in the first two matches raised the obvious questions but the team management explained them away by saying that he had himself taken time out due to domestic commitments, following his outing in the recent Bangladesh Premier League.
But when there was no sign of Mehmood even on the eve of Team Punjab’s first home match, Adam Gilchrist owned up to it. “It’s up to the government. I believe that he has not yet got his visa,” he said.
“When we picked him at the auction, we were given to believe that he would be available for all the matches. But that has not happened. He is yet to get his visa. He is a class player and we are missing him.”
The availability of Pakistani players for the IPL has been a tricky issue, with the government not taking a formal stand after the Mumbai terrorist attack. However, the restriction seems only for Pakistani cricketers and their national team; their hockey, squash, boxing and even kabaddi teams haven’t had any such problems, having participated in events held in India over the last year.
Technically, Mehmood is a British citizen now and there didn’t seem to be any problem in having him at the auction. Team Punjab picked him up assuming that there would be no hitches. But as he is a Pakistani by birth and has even played for the country in international cricket, the government seems to be having second thoughts about issuing a visa.
Similarly, Australia’s batsman Usman Khawaja had problems in securing a visa when the Australian team toured India due to his of Pakistani origin. However, that issue was resolved by the Australian government as it involved their national team.
Mehmood, on his part, is only freelancing, and thus it is up to him and the Punjab franchise to put pressure on the central home ministry and secure his visa; it ought not to be so difficult after the thaw in relations between the two countries following the recent visit of Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 12 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 12 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 13 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
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