Islamabad & New Delhi — Pakistan says it has set up a committee to look into a religious spat between their opener Ahmed Shehzad and Sri Lankan counterpart Tillakaratne Dilshan last month. Television footage showed Shehzad passing a religious remark at Dilshan after the third and final one-day international in Dambulla last week.
After Sri Lanka notched a 7-wicket win to take the series 2-1 and the players were walking off the field, Shehzad was heard on camera saying to Dilshan, “If you are a non-Muslim and you turn Muslim, no matter whatever you do in your life, straight to heaven.” Dilshan apparently replied he doesn’t want to go there, to which Shehzad replied, “Then be ready for the fire.”
The remarks stemmed from reports that 37-year-old Dilshan was born to a Muslim father and a Buddhist mother and was originally named Tuwan Mohamed Dilshan. But once his parents separated he changed his religion and name to Tillakaratne Mudiyanselage Dilshan as a Buddhist. His childhood coach Ranjan Paranavitana said even though Dilshan carried a Muslim name, he and his brothers and sisters followed their mother’s religion from their childhood.
The footage went viral on the internet, prompting the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to summon Shahzad on Wednesday.
A PCB spokesman said the matter would be investigated by an internal committee headed by director of international cricket Zakir Khan. “We have formed an internal committee under Zakir and have also written to Sri Lanka Cricket whether they have any complaint,” said spokesman Agha Akbar.
Pakistan team manager Moin Khan said no official complaint was lodged after the match. “It happened on the last day of the tour but there as no official complaint by match officials or Sri Lankan players so I think it must be a general thing,” said Moin.
The PCB has formed a 3-member committee to look into the matter. PCB director of international cricket operations Zakir Khan is heading the committee. The country’s cricket governing body has written a letter to Sri Lankan Cricket on Thursday, asking them if they have any objection to the comments made by Ahmed Shehzad to batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan.
According to reports, the PCB is waiting for the reply to initiate further action against Shehzad. The board has also issued a stern warning saying that he should just concentrate on cricket.
Reacting to the news, former cricketer Kirti Azad said that such comment from a cricketer was shocking. Another Bharatiya Janata Party leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has dubbed the religious comment as completely wrong and asked the concerned authorities in Islamabad to look into the matter. “If he has said this, then that is completely wrong…these people should know that with these (comments), they are only harming Islam. The Government of Pakistan must look into this matter,” Naqvi said.