Shoaib Malik controversy to hit Pakistan-India relations
By Iftikhar Gilani
NEW DELHI: Pakistan cricketer Shoab Malik’s marriage controversy is loaded to become another irritant in India-Pakistan political relations following Hyderabad police seizing his travel documents and fling a case under strict penal clauses. Shoaib spoke to Pakistan High Commissioner in India Shahid Malik after police questioned him at Indian tennis star Sania Mirza’s house. The Pakistan envoy assured him of full support.
The outrage over Pakistan players being ignored at the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction had already threatened to snowball into a major diplomatic row. Some former players made a scathing attack against the IPL organisers and the franchise for humiliating Pakistan players. Reports suggest the Pakistan High Commission may submit a diplomatic note to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) protesting against the seizure of the cricketer’s passport. MEA officials are closely monitoring developments to prevent its flare up. A source in the Ministry of Home Affairs said the developments are being shared with the Foreign Office.
Pakistani diplomats here said Shoaib would be provided legal and consular assistance. “So far he has not asked for any assistance. Shoaib talked to the High Commission and said things are under control,” said a senior diplomat after police questioned and seized passport of the Pakistan cricketer in Hyderabad.
Shoaib told police that his marriage to Ayesha Siddique was a forgery. He, however, acknowledged his signature on the nikahnama, but said it was taken thorough deception. The Siddiquis claim that Shoaib married their daughter Ayesha in 2002, but has not divorced her till date. A complaint was filed on Sunday by MA Siddiqui, Ayesha’s father, under sections 498 A (harassment), 420 (cheating) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code. They are all non-bailable offences. Hyderabad Police Commissioner AK Khan said Shoaib would not be allowed to leave India without police permission. “We have alerted all immigration gateways not to allow Shoaib to leave,” he said.
Meanwhile, Shoab has received an unexpected support from an NGO fighting for harassed husbands. The Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF), an NGO fighting against dowry harassment, on Monday demanded scrapping of Section 498(A) of the Indian Penal Code and immediate withdrawal of the case slapped under it on the Pakistan cricketer in Hyderabad to stall his marriage with tennis champion Sania. In a statement, the NGO said scrapping of this particular section would not harm women as real victims of dowry harassment or cruelty have access to the Dowry Prohibition Act and Domestic Violence Act to seek protection and justice. “What crime did Shoaib commit that he is victimised in this way?, questioned the SIFF. “How can someone force a marriage on a man? If Shoaib and Ayesha were married, where are the pictures of marriage? Moreover, whether Ayesha Siddiqui’s claims are false or true is up to a family court or civil court to decide and give a judgement. Where do police come into picture? Is Shoaib posing a threat to anyone?” The NGO asserted that marriage disputes before, during and after marriage were civil disputes and they had to be tried under a civil court. They pointed out that it had become a regular habit for women and their families to invoke section 498(A) for every petty dispute in marriage.