A cricket league backed by the Pakistan Cricket Board - as claimed by the organisers - is set to be held in second week of August later this year in the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and while it might seem to be yet another rhetoric from the other side of Line of Control, 1983 World Cup winner and Cricketer-turned-politician Kirti Azad believes these are futile attempts by the ruling government in Pakistan led by former cricket Imran Khan to show something before the elections.
“The elections are due and they have nothing else to show," Azad told News18.com when asked about the Kashmir Premier League which will be played from 6th to 17th August. Former cricketer Wasim Akram is the Vice President of the league, while Shahid Afridi has been named the brand ambassador.
General election for the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’s legislative assembly will be held on July 25, despite appeals to postpone the polls for two months due to the threat of resurgence of the Covid. Last year, Pakistan conducted the Legislative Assembly election in Gilgit-Baltistan. India had slammed Pakistan for its decision to hold elections in Gilgit-Baltistan, saying any action to alter the status of the militarily-occupied region had no legal basis.
“Time and again they have been shamed and call out at the global stage with their occupation of Kashmir and the problems they have been creating and just look at the development the region has had which is nothing to show for compared to what we have seen on the Indian side. Pakistan is a donkey economy and it has always been a case of them trying to create unrest in the region. Their economy in tatters, there are no industries, no opportunies of growth; no country wants to visit the the nation and play. Their players cannot play and they have to go to Dubai [UAE] and play. A country which cannot assure their on players’ safety, how can you go ahead with a league like this?" said Azad, who played seven Test and 25 ODIs for India.
Stressing further on the fact that Kashmir is very much part of India Azad said, “During partition, Jammu and Kashmir was given the option to join either India or Pakistan but Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of that time, decided to keep it as an independent state. Ever since we have followed the democratic path, but that has not been the case in the region under the illegal occupation by Pakistan." he said.
The league has also run in to trouble with country’s top T20 league - the Pakistan Super League (PSL). The PSL franchises have reportedly written to the PCB, expressing disappointment over the start of a new T20 tournament. From an Indian standpoint, Azad is of the opinion that BCCI, via the Indian government, should pressurise the other countries whose players will be part of this league to pull out their players from participating and send a strong signal that this kind of rhetoric.
“There is no time for diplomacy, not even a month (to the start of the tournament) and BCCI should come down hard and through the Indian govt. pressure the countries whose the players are participating to not have anything to do with the league," he added. After from the Pakistan national players, former international cricketers including Herschelle Gibbs, Tillakratne Dilshan, Monty Panesar, Matt Prior have been picked by the teams.