Musharraf wants to see the `climax'

Sujay Mehdudia

NEW DELHI: Security agencies and authorities here have been thrown into a tizzy over the reported request of the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, to watch the last "one hour'' proceedings also of the sixth One-Day International match between India and Pakistan to be played at the Ferozshah Kotla Stadium here on Sunday.

Highly placed sources informed that the Indian authorities had received a request from the visiting Pakistan President that apart from the morning, he would like to visit the stadium in the afternoon as well to watch the "climax'' of the match that would decide the outcome of the cricket series. Pakistan is now leading the series 3-2 and the last match has generated considerable interest.

As elaborate security arrangements have been made inside and outside the Ferozshah Kotla Stadium for the General's visit, the latest request has stumped the security agencies. Since the Pakistan President was originally scheduled to watch the match for around 70 minutes and then leave the stadium for his other official engagements, all the security drills and deployment of forces were drawn up accordingly. If the request of the Pakistan president was to be acceded, all the forces would have to be re-deployed and movement in and around the stadium re-drawn, including putting curbs on the movement of people and crowds that start leaving the stadium towards the end of the match.

Similarly, the Pakistani side had also made another request that Gen. Musharraf would like to watch the match for the first 50 overs and then proceed directly for the lunch hosted by the President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. However, the Indian side is understood to have conveyed to their counterparts in Pakistan that this would not be possible as the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, who will accompany the visiting Pakistan President to the stadium in the morning, would not be able to sit through the entire first half as he has other official engagements on that day.

Meanwhile, the Union Home Secretary, K.K. Duggal, today inspected the security arrangements and other facilities inside and outside the stadium for the visiting dignitary and other VVIPs. The Municipal Commissioner, Rakesh Mehta, accompanied Mr. Duggal.

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