PTV Sports incident: Shoaib Akhtar issues another statement

Shoaib Akhtar (R) and Dr Nauman Niaz (L).

ISLAMABAD: Following the state broadcaster’s announcement to hold an inquiry into an incident involving PTV Sports anchor Dr Nauman Niaz and Shoaib Akhtar, the legendary former fast bowler said that he left it to his countrymen to decide between right and wrong.

In a message on his Instagram, the former pacer Wednesday said that Pakistan is his identity and he had never let his country down.

“Pakistan is my identity and I’ve never let my country down. I’ve given my blood and sweat to this country. I leave it in the hands of my fellow countrymen to decide between the right and wrong,” Shoaib Akhar said.

Dr Niaz, who also holds an administrative position in the Pakistan Television (PTV), forced Akhtar to leave the show as he was not toeing the line on man-of-the-match Haris Rauf’s performance and on his grooming as a world-class bowler.

This happened in front of foreign guest stars Viv Richards and David Gower, who are in Pakistan for their expert opinion on the ongoing T20 World Cup.

As Rauf played a match-winning role in the team’s success against New Zealand, Akhtar praised Lahore Qalandars’ Players Development Programme and its contributions, which irked the host who wanted Akhtar to toe his line.

Akhtar gave the host an opportunity to apologise, which he refused to do, forcing him to leave the set in the presence of reputed mega cricket stars.

“It was an unpleasant incident with the host getting obnoxious. He has insulted a national star on national TV for reasons unknown. He has insulted me in front of international stars. I gave him an opportunity to apologise during the break, which he did not avail. For the sake of Pakistan cricket and the country’s image, I wanted to settle the matter but he was not ready to make an apology. I had no other option but to resign and leave the stage. I can no longer tolerate such an insult,” Akhtar said in one of his tweets.

Later, after a strong backlash, Dr Niaz posted a message acknowledging that Akhtar is a star and that no one is denying that, but did not apologise for his insulting behaviour.

The incident is said to have brought a bad name to the country and Pakistan cricket. “I have never seen such a scene in my life,” Gower had said after the controversy.

Former cricketers and politicians also came out in support of Akhtar, asking the PTV Sports anchor to apologise.

Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi, meanwhile, asked the authorities to sack the anchor.

“Dr Nauman Niaz acted like an arrogant little brat on PTV last night. He should be fired & blacklisted from [the] PTV screen until he tenders a public apology to all sitting on the show, especially Shoaib Akhtar,” he wrote on Twitter.

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