CWG: Gilani orders probe into Pakistan’s flagbearer row

first_imgPakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday ordered an inquiry into the embarrassing scuffle that saw a top sports official snatch the national flag from a sportsperson designated as the flag-bearer during the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.Gilani has taken “serious notice of the unpleasant incident” involving the Pakistani contingent at the Games on Sunday, said a statement issued by his office.Gilani has asked Sports Minister Ijaz Jakhrani to “inquire into the incident and submit a report to him urgently”.He said action will “be taken against any official (or) individual found responsible for the unpleasant incident”.Members of the Pakistani weightlifting team threatened to pull out of the Games after a verbal showdown between weightlifter Shujauddin Malik and the leader of the contingent, Muhammad Ali Shah, over carrying the Pakistani flag at the opening ceremony.Shah is also the Sports Minister of southern Sindh province.Sheikh Rashid, the coach of the weightlifting team, told the media that Malik, a gold medallist at the last Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, was to carry the flag and lead the Pakistani contingent.At the last moment, Shah announced that he would carry the flag.Rashid said members of the weightlifting team took the incident as an insult and insisted that the flag must be carried by Malik as had been announced earlier.They exchanged angry words with Shah, who told the media that he had decided to lead the contingent as he is a provincial sports minister.advertisementShah refused to hand over the flag to Malik and led the contingent at the opening ceremony.Rashid said athletes participated in the opening ceremony only for the sake of national dignity.Senior Pakistani officials had to intervene to avert a boycott by the weightlifting team.The Prime Minister acted after the incident was highlighted by the Pakistani media and several former sportspersons demanded an inquiry into the controversy.Pakistan’s chef de mission Muhammad Ali Shah said the matter related to the carrying of the national flag at the opening ceremony had been “sorted out” and the “whole concentration” was on team’s performance now.”The reports (about the weightlifters pulling out) were just rumours. There was a misunderstanding which has been sorted out after a meeting this morning. The matter is closed and all lifters are training now,” Shah told the media.He said he did not know that weightlifter Shujauddin Malik would be carrying the flag.”Neither Pakistan Olympic Association nor Pakistan Sports Board had informed me about that. Had I been told about it, I would definitely have handed over the flag to Shujauddin,” he said.”I had no verbal or written instructions about that.Besides, I had to take a decision on the spot. So I thought that being a senior member of our contingent, I should carry the flag,” Shah said.TV channels reported that Shah is likely to be recalled to Islamabad to explain his position.- With inputs from PTIlast_img

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