Pakistani minister presents crown to Sania Mirza


Hyderabad : Pakistani Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan, cricketer Sohail Tanvir and singer Waris Baig attended the wedding reception of Shoaib Malik and Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza Thursday night.

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Awan, population welfare minister who represented the Pakistani government at the reception, presented a crown to Sania on behalf of the people of Sialkot, the home town of Shoaib. She also handed over gifts from Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to the newly-wed couple.

The reception, held at Taj Krishna hotel, was attended by leader of opposition and Telugu Desam Party president N. Chandrababu Naidu, Hindi film actor Raza Murad and Telugu actors like Nagarjuna, Amla and Venkatesh. However, several Bollywood personalities invited for the reception, stayed away.

Sahara Group chairman Subroto Roy, industrialist G.V.K. Reddy, who sponsored Sania ever since she started playing tennis at the age of 10, and eminent personalities from different walks of life attended the reception.

Sania’s family had made elaborate arrangements for the reception, where 1,000 guests were invited.

“It is now the turn of some Indian to go to Pakistan and bring a bride. Pakistanis should be indebted to us for giving them such a good girl in marriage,” said Raza Murad, a friend of Sania’s father Imran Mirza.

Several prominent sportspersons and film personalities from Bollywood stayed away reportedly due to the controversy surrounding the marriage.

Shoaib divorced his first wife Ayesha Siddiqui last week and married Sania on Monday. The serious allegations leveled by Ayesha against the Pakistani cricketer made it a controversial marriage.

However, unfazed by the controversy, the Pakistani minister landed with gifts for Sania. “This crown is a gift of love and affection from the people of Sialkot, which is also my home town,” said Awan.

She hoped the marriage of the two celebrities would help strengthen the ties between India and Pakistan.

Awan, who is on a five-day visit to India at the invitation of union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, reiterated that the newly-wed couple would be brand ambassadors of the Pakistan population welfare ministry.

“We are aware of the legal process in India and the issue of passport will be resolved very soon,” she said when asked about Shoaib’s passport, which is still with a city court.

The Hyderabad Police have said it could take a week for the former Pakistan skipper to get back his passport as he would have to complete legal formalities with regard to the closure of the case filed against him by his first wife Ayesha Siddiqui.

Ayesha withdrew her complaint against Shoaib after the latter divorced her. But the cricketer’s passport, seized by the police after grilling him April 5, is still with the court.

The Pakistani cricketer Thursday moved Andhra Pradesh High Court to get back his passport.