Pak minister in city to attend Sania reception

Pakistan Population Welfare Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan, cricketer Sohail Tanvir and singer Waris Baig have arrived here to attend the wedding reception of Shoaib Malik and Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza on Thursday evening.

Awan, who landed in Hyderabad on Wednesday night, hoped that the marriage of the two celebrities would help strengthen the ties between India and Pakistan.

"I am here to attend the wedding reception and I am confident that this marriage will help in the peace process," she told reporters at the airport.

The minister, who would represent the Pakistani government at the reception Thursday, said she would present a gold crown to Sania as a special gift from the people of Sialkot, Shoaib’s home town. The minister also comes from the same town.

Awan, who is on a five-day visit to India at the invitation of union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, will also hand over gifts from Pakistan President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to the couple.

The minister reiterated that the newly-wed couple would be brand ambassadors of Pakistan population welfare ministry.

"We are aware of the legal process in India and the issue of passport will be resolved very soon," she said when asked about Shoaib’s passport, which is still with a city court.

The Hyderabad Police have said it could take a week for the former Pakistan skipper to get back his passport as he would have to complete legal formalities with regard to the closure of the case filed against him by his first wife Ayesha Siddiqui.

Ayesha withdrew her complaint against Shoaib after the latter divorced her. But the cricketer’s passport, seized by the police after grilling him April 5, is still with the court.

The Pakistani cricketer married the Indian tennis ace Monday.

Meanwhile, the stage is set for the gala wedding reception at hotel Taj Krishna in Hyderabad. Sania’s family has invited about 1,000 guests, including film personalities and sportspersons.

Actors Salman Khan and Shahid Kapoor, tennis stars Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati, and ace shuttler Pullela Gopichand are among some of the celebrities expected to attend the reception.(IANS)

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