Bangalore: External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Thursday said the government followed proper procedures in giving a visa to former Pakistan cricket captain Javed Miandad, whose visit has sparked off a political controversy.
Miandad, now a senior official of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), would arrive in India Jan 5 to watch a one-day cricket match between India and Pakistan in New Delhi the following day.
"It's a decision that has been taken by the government. I can't blame the home ministry, I cannot blame ourselves; it's a decision taken by the government. What are the circumstances, what is considered, when is the approval given, what goes into it is something that is an internal government matter," Khurshid told reporters here.
The visit of Miandad, whose son Junaid is married to Mahrukh, daughter of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, wanted in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, has sparked a controversy with leaders of the Congress and the Shiv Sena demanding his visa be cancelled.
"Giving visa to his (Dawood Ibrahim's) relative is wrong. We still consider Dawood Ibrahim the most wanted and have been asking Pakistan to send him back. Giving a visa to his relative will hurt the sentiments of people in India," Congress MP Jagdambika Pal said Wednesday.
Shic Sena leader Sanjay Raut also slammed the government for granting visa to Miandad.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the government and security agencies should be alert about visitors so that the spirit of the game is not crushed.
"It should be ensured that the spirit of the game should not be crushed. The government and the security agencies should be alert as to who is coming or not so that the game should be played in a sportsmanship and a good environment," BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told reporters in Delhi.
Khurshid said the media was not supposed to question the government's decision.
"It's not your (media) job to ask these questions. It is a job that the home ministry has to ask and answer itself and they have taken a decision. No Pakistani visa gets cleared without home ministry clearance and the ministry would take inputs from all agencies, including from our missions abroad. And, I think that's an internal procedure," said the minister.
PCB maintains silence over Miandad's visit to Delhi
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is maintaining a silence over the issue of its director-general cricket, Javed Miandad going to New Delhi to watch the third and final one-day international between India and Pakistan.
The news of Miandad being granted a visa by the authorities has generated a lot of controversy in India with a number of politicians questioning the decision as Miandad's family has ties with Dawood Ibrahim, India's most wanted terrorist.
There had been reports before a series in 2005 that any requests for a visa by the batting great could be turned down by the Indian government.
"We have been told to avoid any comments on this issue. Even Javed has been told not speak to the media on the sensitive subject," a source in the PCB said.
Miandad's son Junaid is married to Mahrukh, the daughter of Dawood, who is wanted in India in connection with the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts case.
Miandad had confirmed to the 'Daily Dawn' newspaper on Tuesday that he will be witnessing the third ODI in New Delhi on January 6.
"My visa and tickets are ready and I shall be in Delhi for the third ODI match scheduled for January 6," he said.
Miandad also said that he did not face any trouble in getting the Indian visa and was quite excited about travelling to Delhi for the big game.
The former captain was also granted visa to visit India in March, 2011 to witness the World Cup semifinal match between the arch-rivals at Mohali but he cancelled it due to some personal commitments.
Miandad could not be contacted for his reactions on the latest outcry in India, but sources close to him confirmed he was conferring with his family, friends and the PCB whether it would be worthwhile to visit Delhi in the current situation.
Interestingly, the PCB had not included Miandad's name in a list of former captains and greats, it had prepared to send to India as goodwill ambassadors.
The list included Intikhab Alam, Imtiaz Ahmed, Hanif Muhammad, Wasim Bari and Sadiq Muhammad. And except for Hanif, who will going to Delhi, the others are already in India as goodwill ambassadors.
Former Pakistan captain, Imran Khan and his cousins, Majid Khan and Javed Burki had declined invitations from the PCB to go to India for the series.