Islamabad: Pakistan`s Federal Minister for Population Welfare Firdous Ashiq Awan today stepped forward in support of cricketer Shoaib Malik and Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza, saying she intended to gift the couple a family planning kit as their their wedding gift.
Awan said she was behind Shoaib because she is close to the cricketer`s family and his hometown, Sialkot was also part of her constituency.
"You know I represent the ministry of population welfare, where family planning is one of the main segments. I will present a family planning kit but later on, I will ask the couple to be the ambassadors of the ministry for family planning and contraceptive programmes," the minister told reporters.
"Shoaib and Sania should serve as ambassadors for family planning programmes as it is a national service and a national cause and the couple should inform the youth and the overall population of Pakistan that this is the biggest challenge to this nation in future," Awan said."We have to curtail this population growth rate and I am sure they will be the best ambassadors for our programmes."
Shoaib, who is in Hyderabad to marry Indian tennis star Sania, is in a legal soup owing to a past affair with another Hyderabad girl Ayesha Siddiqui.
Ayesha claims Shoaib married her over phone before dumping her due to her weight problems without a divorce.But Shoaib maintains that the Ayesha who is making these allegations is not the one he committed himself to during an internet affair that grew over telephone conversations.
Awan, a lawmaker of the ruling Pakistan People`s Party, said the people of Pakistan will not abandon Shoaib at such a difficult time.
The minister also said that Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi was asked to help Shoaib after Ayesha filed an FIR against him in Hyderabad.
"I expect the Indian judiciary to do justice according to the country`s laws and I believe that Shoaib has not done anything wrong. The truth will prevail," Awan said.
Awan claimed a media trial was being conducted in the matter and said the couple need support at this difficult phase.
"This wedding should be celebrated as a festival and it should not be discouraged. We should own it as Shoaib`s family and the couple need our support," she said.
Asked if she planned to attend the marriage scheduled for April 15, Awan said if the Pakistani parliament passed a constitutional amendment bill before the date of the wedding, she would be more than happy to bless the couple personally.
First Published: Tuesday, April 06, 2010, 18:32