Salahuddin Haider

Saturday, October 17, 2015 – WELL done Sir. Hats off to you, Qaim Ali Shah. As the provincial chief executive, he is supposedly the protector of peoples’ rights. Instead he chose to land his helicopter at the Niaz Stadium, Hyderabad where a national tournament of under-19 cricket match was on Friday afternoon.

His action was not only strange, but in effect caused for instant reprimand from the President of Pakistan and the prime minister. Landing a huge machine right in the middle of the stadium, surprised the kids, for they were hounded out of the field mid-way through a fixture which may well have produced a national hero.

The field was destroyed, the ground, built after years of labour, was damaged, the grass trampled under the weight of the helicopter, and the match too was suspended for two hours.

Are we then qualified to call ourselves a responsible nation? The head of the administration of a province, already notorious for maladministration, and rampant corruption, had to witness yet another disgraceful incident.

The Stadium, right in the heart of the city, was built by former Hyderabad Commissioner, Niaz Ahmad, younger brother of country’s ex-finance minister Mohammad Shoaib, and is listed as Sindh’s second biggest cricket ground, after National Stadium, Karachi.

It has hosted Test matches against India and Australia, apart from one-day games. It was here that two of Pakistan’s former greats—Javed Miandad, and opener Mudassar Nazar created a new world record of 451-run partnership for the fourth wicket, and equaled the previous best in Test matches for any wicket.

Pakistan’s super hero, Javed Miandad scored his career best of 280 not out on this very stadium against India in 1982. The then Pakistan captain Imran Khan( now a politician) produced a fiery spell on the Stadium’s deadest and flattest of wickets to bundle India out twice and record a historic win. Imran injured his shin in the process, but he humbled the traditional rival.

Building a stadium of international standard is no joke. Years of efforts are required to raise a quality field. But one unjust action on the part of the Hyderabad administration, local police, and the chief minister’s arrival right in the middle of the cricket field, was something which cannot be justified on any ground.

During late General Ziaul Haq’s tenure, all major cricket fields, including Gaddafi Stadium,Lahore, Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad, National Stadium, Karachi, and Niaz Stadium, Hyderabad, were placed under cricket board’s control for proper maintenance.

Cricket lovers were dumbfounded by Chief Minister’s action, and demanded severe disciplinary action against Commissioner,Hyderabad, the DIG, Hyderabd Police, SSP, Hyderabad police, and the chief minister for violating the set rules, and destroying invaluable national asset.

The grass grown and maintained at enormous cost was destroyed by allowing police and administration vehicles inside the Stadium, and parking those at the lush green lawn. Who gave the permission for flouting the rules and who is to be held responsible now? People need an answer, and an apology from the chief minister.

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