ISLAMABAD - Cricket fever gripped Pakistan on Tuesday ahead of a World Cup showdown with the historic foe India in Mohali today.
The South Asian neighbours, with a shared history of brotherhood and bloodshed that adds spice to any encounter, will meet in the World Cup semi-final in the competition’s biggest match yet by far. Pakistan is in festive mood all around. Jumbo screens have been installed in almost every city and the government has announced half-day holiday for the semi-final. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has announced half-day holiday for Wednesday (today) so that the people can watch Pakistan-India Cricket World Cup semi-final, therefore all the offices will close at 12:00 pm.
Meanwhile Federal Minister for Privatisation, Syed Naveed Qamar, who is also having the additional charge of Ministry of Water and Power, during a press conference, said that they would try their level best to ensure power supply to maximum areas during the Pakistan-India cricket semi-final. The Sindh government, meanwhile, has declared full-day holiday in the province.
Agencies add: Prime Minister Gilani will leave for Chandigarh on Wednesday morning with a 45-member delegation to watch the semi-final. He was invited for the match by his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh. Gilani’s entourage includes 17 members of personal staff and eight representatives of media. Prime Minister’s wife, ANP chief Asfandyar Wali, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Information Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar, Foreign Secretary Suleman Bashir would also accompany the PM.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader in National Assembly leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali khan and other PML-N leaders including Pervaiz Rashid refused to go with the Prime Minister to watch the match. According to some reports, PM would hold talks with his Indian counterpart ahead of match and the latter would host a reception for him. Later a joint press conference would be held. Both the leaders would move to Mohali cricket stadium to watch match after press conference. Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said he would offer ‘Nawafil’ if Pakistani cricket team would win the semi final match verses India. Lawmakers and politicians are also taking keen interest in the Pakistan-India semi-final. Special prayers for success of Pakistani cricket team were held in the Sindh Assembly on Tuesday.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) members gathered in the chamber of Syed Sardar Ahmed, the MQM parliamentary leader in the house, and prayed for Pakistan’s success in the semi-final match against India. Other parties also prayed for the team’s victory. The lawmakers said that they wanted to enjoy the match on a big screen. Opposition leader in Sindh Assembly, Jam Madad Ali said that he would watch the match on a big screen in his constituency.