A day after lashing out at the government for “ruining sports in the country”, legendary cricketer Javed Miandad went on the offensive again and asked Prime Minister Imran Khan why he was trying to abolish a system he himself was the product of.
Miandad made those comments flanked by hockey great Islahuddin Siddiqui and squash maestro Jahangir Khan at a press conference in Karachi on Saturday.
“Me, Islahuddin, Jahangir [Khan] and Saleem Jafer, we are all the products of this [departmental] culture,” said Miandad, who has been campaigning against Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) purported plans to scrap departmental cricket.
“This is the best system. When departmental cricket and sports were active, we were champions in how many sports and how good were we? I can tell you that if it wasn’t for PIA, then it is possible the Jahangir Khan may not have been Jahangir Khan.”
Miandad addressed his former teammate and incumbent prime minister, Imran Khan, saying: “You played in this system yourself. Did you not play county cricket in England? Do they not pay for playing county cricket? Were we stupid that we played there? We played because of money.
“This system was successful in Pakistan. Just ask yourself where was our cricket back then? We had world champions like Jahangir and Jansher because they had the PIA’s support.”
Miandad, who played under PM Imran in their triumphant 1992 campaign, said “I was expecting from Imran Khan that he would support sports even more [after coming into power],” adding that “there aren’t any jobs anyway and then you’re also laying off those who have jobs.”
“What problem is there if banks pay a million rupees to a player but then he brings in Rs5 million worth of [advertisement benefits]?” he asked. “I am not against regional cricket but it can’t work here even if it does worldwide.”
Miandad advised the prime minister to listen to the people and reminded him of the many favours he had given to him.
“I ask Imran Khan to ask his own voters who is right on this issue: you or us,” he said. “Politicians must be very wary of these things. If you do not listen to the people in a democracy, it will not be good for you or your party. I have never asked the prime minister of anything but I have done a lot of favours.”
Miandad rued the state of sports in the country, saying: “The sports infrastructure is in tatters. There are buildings everywhere. There is nothing for sportsmen.
“The biggest problem in this country is the economy. No one here wants to play cricket or hockey, they just want jobs. They are helpless and are being exploited.”