Ignoring Pakistani players very shocking: former Foreign Secretaries

While the government distanced itself from the ignoring of Pakistani players in the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction, former Foreign Secretaries criticised the incident as “very shocking” and “unnecessary.”

The government washed its hands off the fiasco saying it had issued visas to all Pakistani players who wanted to be present for the auction and was prepared to issue the necessary entry documents had they been selected. In fact, sources pointed out that there was no red tape in issuing the visas, which were given in three batches in Pakistan, New Zealand and Australia.

One highly placed source felt that commercial and security considerations might have played a role in the franchisees deciding to treat Pakistani players as untouchables.

“Some people want to give the impression that the government was behind this. I have been told that franchisees became cautious after the experience of Australians leaving mid-way in the previous IPL due to international commitments. This time, had the Pakistanis been selected, they would have missed some of the matches. There could also have been some security considerations,” the source said.

The former Foreign Secretary, Muchkund Dubey, however, called the sidelining of the 11 players “totally irrational,” considering Pakistan was the World T20 champion. He said this could not have been done without a nudge or hint from some wing of the government.

“Pakistan is the world champion and plays brilliant cricket. It would be very difficult for team managements not to vie for some of them. It is really shameful if the Board of Control for Cricket in India [BCCI] was behind this. This is against the ethics of sports, against the ethics of managing such things. This is very shocking and short-sighted. Just because our relations are not normal and there is some tension in our ties, this does not mean we should touch such depths,” Mr. Dubey said.

‘Solid team’

Kanwal Sibal, another former Foreign Secretary, felt that if the incident was related to politics, then it was “unnecessary” because Pakistan was a “very solid” cricketing nation.

“They have excellent cricket players and the selection should have been purely in the realm of sports. The current problem at the political level should not have been a determining factor. This is more so when contacts at the people-to-people level are increasing and Pakistani delegations are meeting their Indian counterparts to improve their relations,” Mr. Sibal said.

He added that if the franchisees decided on their own not to bid for any Pakistani player, they were taking an “exaggerated view” of the degree of public resistance to Pakistani participation in the IPL.

The former External Affairs Minister, K. Natwar Singh, said the option to bid or not to bid was entirely up to the franchisees. “The government has no control. If no one bids for them what can you do? If people are investing so much money they cannot be forced to select a player from this or that nation,” he said.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2020 2:44:06 PM |

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