Rehman Malik keeping tabs on cricketers

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KARACHI/ISLAMABAD – With just a couple of days to go before the highly-anticipated Cricket World Cup semi-final clash between India and Pakistan, Interior Minister Rehman Malik warned the national team’s players to stay away from match-fixing, a statement that drew severe criticism from various quarters, with many saying that his remarks would put undue pressure on the team. According to a private TV channel, Pakistan National Cricket Team Captian Shahid Afridi shared with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani the team’s reservations on the interior minister’s statement during a phone call from the premier to buck up the team.
Malik told reporters on Monday that he hoped the Pakistan team would stay away from match-fixing and would make their best efforts to win the clash against archrivals India. According to a private TV channel, Malik made a late night telephone call to Afridi and clarified that his statement was not meant to demoralise the team. Malik had told reporters outside Parliament House in Islamabad earlier that the government was trying to counter the conspiracies of bookies in London and Dubai and to make sure that Pakistani players were not “trapped” unwittingly.
Rehman advised the players not to associate with any unknown people. Malik also said that he was keeping a “close watch” on the activities of the players to ensure that they did not interact with any suspicious people. “I gave a warning that there should be no match-fixing. I am keeping a close watch. If any such thing happens, we are going to take action,” he said. Meanwhile, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif also conveyed their best wishes to the Pakistan cricket team.
Nawaz telephoned Afridi and congratulated him on the team’s performance in the World Cup matches. Shahbaz announced that the Punjab government would give 25 acres of land to each player if they won the semi-final match against India tomorrow (Wednesday).