Shoaib Malik could not have foreseen the rousing reception his wife, Indian tennis star Sania Mirza, would receive in his country.
On Friday, when the newly-married couple arrived in Lahore, accompanied by Sania’s mother, Shoaib could be seen with his arms wrapped around his wife, trying to shield her from an unruly crowd at a hotel in Lahore.
Finally, the Pakistani cricketer appealed to the people to welcome their “sister-in-law” in a decent way. “I know people here are very happy about our marriage but they should be decent in expressing their emotions,” he told a news channel. “In our country, respect is shown to sisters and mothers.”
The couple has been mobbed by frenzied fans and media since their arrival in Pakistan this week. Shoaib was upset at the behaviour of the crowds at Karachi airport and Lahore’s Pearl Continental Hotel, where Sania and her mother were jostled by fans.
As they passed through the crowd, they were pushed and shoved. At one point, Sania was about to fall but Shoaib jumped to her rescue. This brought tears to Sania’s eyes.
Upset over these incidents, Shoaib declined to hold a scheduled press conference. He also met Superintendent of Police Haider Ashraf and requested security, for Sania and him and their Indian guests.
About a dozen of Sania’s relatives are scheduled to arrive in Lahore on Sunday for a reception on Tuesday.
But it was lights off for another reception in Shoaib’s hometown, Sialkot, on Sunday. An energy conservation drive by authorities forced Shoaib’s family to switch off lights put up to decorate his house.
As part of a nationwide campaign to conserve electricity, the federal government has closed all its offices for two days a week and put in place several measures to curb the demand for energy.
“If the government wants us to celebrate the event in the dark, we will do,” said an annoyed Imran Zafar, Shoaib’s brother-in-law.