In Pakistan, political wrangling can spoil even an occasion as memorable as a World Cup win. On March 25, it will be a quarter-century since Pakistan won the 1992 World Cup, but organisers and sponsors are perplexed about how to celebrate the grand occasion.
The bone of contention is that Imran Khan, now a politician and great adversary of Nawaz Sharif, the current Prime Minister, was the skipper when Pakistan ruled the world. There is no possibility of Sharif putting a gold medal around Imran’s neck, not after his political opponent has tightened the noose around him in the Panama corruption case.
Adding more spice to the theme is the presence of Najam Sethi in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). Sethi is involved in a court case with Imran. During the 2013 national elections, Sethi was the caretaker chief minister of Punjab province, and Imran accused him of political rigging.
Imran has since repeated his allegation of “35 punctures” against Sethi, referring to alleged rigging in 35 constituencies in the province. Sethi subsequently sued Imran in the High Court but the case is pending, much to the chagrin of the defendant.
Sources told Wisden India that the PCB wanted to organise a grand show but dare not ask Sharif – who was also PM at the time of Pakistan’s win in 1992 – to grace the occasion with Imran.
“It’s a dilemma for PCB,” said the source. “If they host the function with Imran in attendance, it will irk the government, and if they don’t celebrate the occasion, the media and fans will come down hard on them.”
One solution could be to ask the main sponsor to stage a private function.
Officials are currently busy with the Pakistan Super League, and a final decision will be taken only once the tournament is over.