Islamabad: Amid the tense standoff between the military and the government, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has described President Asif Ali Zardari as the “pace attack bowler” of his political team which is under attack from “left, right and centre”.
Gilani said this while interacting with sportspersons at the launch of state-run broadcaster PTV’s new sports channel on the same day when the country’s powerful military issued a terse statement criticising him for his remarks on Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha.
Asked by Pakistani women cricket team captain Sana Mir who was his “pace attack bowler” in politics, Gilani replied: “Asif Ali Zardari”.
Former Test cricketer Rameez Raja, one of the hosts for the event, asked the premier if his government, which has faced “many bouncers and yorkers”, would be able to hit a six off the last ball of the innings like batsman Javed Miandad.
Gilani replied: “For the last four years, our situation was worse than that of Javed Miandad. There were attacks from left, right and centre and we have been facing them”.
In response to another question about his favourite sportsman, Gilani said: “I like Imran Khan as a sportsman”.
Asked if this liking extended to Khan’s new role as a politician, he quipped, “We will find out when the time comes”.
Gilani fondly recalled his visit to Mohali at the invitation of his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh to watch the semi-final of last year’s cricket World Cup between India and Pakistan. The match was won by India.
“Though we lost, the enthusiasm, the people’s contacts… and the public opinion was extremely favourable. When I was leaving the stadium, people (greeted) me all along the route,” he said.
Gilani said he was not affected by the Pakistani side’s loss as he took “sports as sports”.
Gilani described politics as a game in which all players should show magnanimity.
“Whether you are winning or losing, we should not make it personal,” he said.
Sports, he said, could help tackle the problem of terrorism and extremism that Pakistan is facing.
“There is terrorism and extremism because there is no entertainment. If the youth are diverted to sports and education, this basic issue will be overcome,” he said.
Gilani also recalled his school days and said he was an all-round student who took interest in cricket, rugby, football, swimming, and extra-curricular activities like painting, drama and elocution.