Tournament’s Pakistan-leg will begin in Karachi from March 9
Pakistan's political milieu has historically been divided along ethnic lines. But prevalent differences aside, there is one thing that seems to unite everyone: the love for cricket.
As the fourth season of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) comes to Karachi for its remaining eight matches after taking the UAE by storm, the country's parliamentarians, like other Pakistanis, appear to be all charged up and set to head over to the National Stadium to welcome the PSL teams and support their favourite players.
Commenting on one of the biggest sports extravaganzas in the country, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the foreign minister of Pakistan, said that he wants the event to be successful because it serves as a beacon of hope for a peaceful and secure Pakistan.
Other parliamentarians unanimously agreed that hosting the PSL will be favourable for Pakistan's image. However, they stressed the need to remain vigilant of the enemies who are always looking for a chance to destabilise Pakistan.
While security remains the topmost agenda for everyone, parliamentarians couldn't contain their love and enthusiasm for the game.
To make the most of the game, Qureshi urged Karachiites to fully support the game and participate in the league. "Karachi is a big city. The crowd will add to the liveliness of the event," he said.
Qureshi, however, expressed his disappointed over the performance of Multan Sultans — the team representing his ancestral city. "I love Multan Sultans but their performance has failed to live up to the expectations," Qureshi said.
His son Zain Qureshi — who is a member of the National Assembly — however, said that he does not support a specific team. "The return of cricket to Pakistan is a big victory in itself," he added.
Senator Mushahidullah Khan from Pakistan Muslim League — Nawaz (PML-N) held a similar opinion and said that hosting the PSL matches in Karachi despite the tense regional situation is favourable for Pakistan, adding that he will definitely attend the match if circumstances allow.
"Nawaz Sharif uprooted terrorism that plagued Karachi for many years and PML-N is behind the peace in the city. Through the PSL, a goodwill gesture and a message for peace and brotherhood will be disseminated across the globe," he added.
He expressed his support and penchant for Lahore Qalandars and lauded Haris Rauf's performance. And it looks like he has been following the matches quite closely. "The team's owner Fawad Rana did not give up even after his team lost the match. He has rendered countless services for Pakistan cricket," he elaborated.
Similarly, Rehman Malik, the former interior minister of Pakistan said that he indiscriminately supports all PSL teams.
Ramesh Kumar, an MNA from PTI opined that efforts and fate go hand in hand in the game. Being a big cricket enthusiast, Kumar said that he will go to Karachi to attend the games. However, like Malik, he didn't specify any favourites. "We want a good show regardless of the winner," he said.
MNA Alamgir Khan — who hails from Karachi — said that every possible measure will be taken to successfully hold the matches since the National Stadium falls under his constituency. And when it came to showing support, Khan also demonstrated neutrality by saying that he supports all the teams.
Ameer Jamat-e-Islami, Siraj-ul-Haq welcomed PSL in Pakistan and said that given the prevalent situation plaguing the country, the entire nation needs to wake up. Pointing out his favourite player, he said that he is rooting for none other than the cricket superstar Shahid Afridi.
Akin to other parliamentarians, former information minister Pervez Rasheed lauded every good player and extended his support to all the teams. He, however, expressed his disappointment over the choice of venue and said that there should have been some matches in Lahore too.
"People have a craze for cricket in Pakistan and afield. I will definitely watch the match,'' said PTI senator Faisal Javed. "Until now, Pakistani skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed and his team have performed quite well. I think that the PSL has introduced new talent in cricket."
Senator Sarfaraz Bugti, the former interior minister of Balochistan, said that he is supporting his provincial team Quetta Gladiators.
While most male parliamentarians either remained neutral in terms of their favourite teams or supported local players, female parliamentarians showed a preference toward foreign players.
Sitara Ayaz, an ANP senator, said that she is extending her support to Peshawar Zalmi but added that she is an ardent fan of West Indian cricket star, Darren Sammy. "Sammy is not just mine, but everyone's favourite. If possible, I will visit Karachi to support my team," she said.
Her PTI counterpart Andaleeb Abbas said that she will try to visit Karachi to watch the match but expressed her disappointment for not being able to see her favourite cricketer AB de Villiers from South Africa, who won't be able to make it due to fitness issues.
Likewise, Zartaj Gul, the minister of state for climate change also picked Sammy over local players. "My personal favourite is Darren Sammy because he is not only a great player but has also helped in promoting Pakistan's hospitality and culture on an international forefront."
Gul, however, added that she is extending her support to two teams — Multan Sultans and Peshawar Zalmi — and added that the PSL is painting a beautiful picture of Pakistan the world over.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MNA Naz Baloch was an exception as she didn't name her favourite players. Instead, she revealed that she supported Karachi Kings in the past but the fourth season has proved that all the teams are equally capable and the competition is fierce.
"I will go to watch the game because it would be great to see the people of my city enjoy the spirit and passion of cricket. But let's see who wins," she said.