Three of India’s greatest cricketers Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar and Navjot Singh Sidhu are finally getting an invite to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf chief Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony as Prime Minister. Mr Khan’s party has flip-flopped on the invitations to the event, which was initially planned for August 11, over the last 10 days.
Today, Mr Khan’s party came up with a fresh date, August 18.
Mr Khan’s party PTI also revived the plan to invite the three “cricket legends from India and Kaptaan’s old friends”, just a week after it had called off the invitation to foreign dignitaries and international cricket players.
“The ceremony will be completely national in its façade and essence,” a statement by his party last week had said, underlining that Mr Khan had decided to go for a simple and austere ceremony.
It had come as huge embarrassment for Punjab minister, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu who had promptly accepted the yet-to-come invitation.
The outspoken politician had declared that he would travel to Pakistan for the event, calling Imran Khan “a man of character”, a “Greek God” and someone who is “trustworthy”.
Cricket legends from India and Kaptaan’s old friends Kapil Dev, Sidhu and Sunil Gavaskar have been invited to attend Oath Taking Ceremony of Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan @sherryontopp@therealkapildev@36notout
– Faisal Javed Khan (@FaisalJavedKhan) August 10, 2018
Kapil Dev had responded more cautiously, underlining that he hadn’t received an invite but he will “surely go there” for the ceremony with the government’s approval if the invite did come. Sunil Gavaskar hadn’t commented. Neither had actor Aamir Khan, who figured in the earlier guest list.
Mr Khan, who played first class cricket for two decades, has also invited the Pakistan cricket team that he captained in 19992 to a world cup victory over England.
Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria, who called on the PM-designate in Islamabad today, presented him a cricket bat with autographs of the Indian cricket team.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, the party that Imran Khan founded in the mid-nineties after his career in cricket ended, has been in the fringes of Pakistan’s politics for most of the 20 years of its existence. In last month’s national election, the PTI, however, emerged as the largest party with 116 seats. It has stitched a coalition that crosses the 137 seats needed for majority.
The flip-flop over the invitation to Indian cricketers, however, isn’t the only one that his party have been associated with.
In his victory speech before all the results were out, Imran Khan had pledged to take austerity measures to save taxpayers’ money and declared he would be “ashamed” to stay in the sprawling Prime Minister’s House.
Mr Khan, however, had to cancel his plans to stay put in his house after a security audit pointed that it would require a massive upgrade to secure the area. His party that went house hunting finally settled for Punjab House that, according to a report in The News, is far more luxurious than any other official residence. PTI, however, says this was a stop-gap arrangement till the house in the ministers’ enclave is ready.