15 elders brokered Shoaib-Ayesha deal

As many as 15 prominent leaders of the Muslim community and politicians brokered the compromise deal between Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik and his alleged first wife, Ms Ayesha Siddiqui, which brought the controversy about whether the two were married to an end.

The minister for minorities welfare, Mr M. Ahmadullah, the APCC general secretary, Mr Abid Rasool Khan, a family friend of the Siddiquis, Dr Shams Babar, and prominent community leader, Mr Imran Qadri, played a key role.

They said they had been working quietly for four days and a deal was struck around midnight on Tuesday. They said Shoaib signed the divorce papers as per the agreement at around 7 am on Wednesday.

Though the efforts to arrive at a compromise began on Saturday, they gained momentum only after the arrival of Shoaib’s brother-in-law, Mr Imran Zafar, on Tuesday evening.

Mr Ahmadullah said he got personally involved as the dispute was turning murkier by the day with allegations and counter-allegations bringing disrepute to the Muslim community.

“Both the girls are from Hyderabad and from the same community. The Siddiquis just want a divorce and nothing else. We asked Shoaib to give the divorce and not to stick to his stand that the marriage with Ms Ayesha had not taken place. It’s true that there was a nikah, whether through telephone or anything else, and he needs to agree to the divorce if he wants to marry Sania. He agreed and signed the divorce papers that were sent to Dr Shams Babar’s residence,” said Mr Ahmadullah.

Mr Abid Rasool Khan, at whose residence the negotiations were held, said, “The community elders especially were upset at the muckraking. There was a lot of pressure from the community on both families not to let things go out of hand. That is why we got involved. We negotiated the whole of last night and by the grace of Allah have managed to hammer out an honourable solution for both parties. We have not taken any sides.”

He said no money was involved “except the nominal amount required to be given to Ms Ayesha for maintenance at the rate of Rs 5,000 per month for three months, as per Islamic law.”

Community leader Mr Imran Qadri said there was “too much ugliness in the past two months, which has been affecting both the countries. We pressurised both Shoaib and Ayesha to settle the issue, and they still stand by what they have been saying. However, in the larger interest of the community, they agreed to sign on the divorce papers.”

Mr Mohammad Shafi, uncle of Sania Mirza, who was also part of the negotiations, said, “No one has won and no one has lost in this case. Shoaib Malik has been maintaining that he was cheated by Ayesha and she was not the person with whom he had nikah over the telephone. But it’s time to leave behind the past and think of the marriage of Sania Mirza and Shoaib Malik.”

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