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Islamabad

February 15, 2015

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Reception to celebrate mega event

Islamabad
After an exhibition match between PCB X1 and Diplomatic X1, which was held in keeping with the Serena Hotels Sports Diplomacy initiative, a reception was held at the Serena Hotel to celebrate the start of the Cricket World Cup which opened Friday night in Australia and New Zealand. It was a well attended affair hosted by the management of the hotel.
A cricketing atmosphere had been created, with ‘nets’ where aficionados of the game could take a turn at batting and bowling. I saw the Australian high commissioners better half Susan, batting against balls bowled by a young man -- possibly a cricketer -- and she looked pretty handy with the bat! A large stage had been erected at one end of the Shamadan lawn where the prize distribution ceremony for the exhibition match took place and speeches were made.
Speaking at the ceremony, CEO Serena Hotels, Aziz Boolani said they had started sports diplomacy to showcase the softer image of Pakistan and promote healthy activities between various segments of society to enhance social well-being and cultural development.
Peter Heyward said the Cricket World Cup -- which has gone back to Australia after two decades -- is an opportunity to show the world Australia’s sporting side and welcome neighbours and friends to Australia. “Australia and Pakistan share a passion for cricket which further strengthens the ties between our two nations” he said. Already a popular diplomat, his remark, “I wish Pakistan well in the coming series,” must surely have endeared him even more to the Pakistanis present on the occasion!
Intikhab Alam appreciated the efforts of the three collaborating parties and briefly recalled Pakistan’s exciting win in the 1992 World Cup. Wishing the Pakistani team success he concluded by thanking all participants and those who made the event a memorable one.
Aiman O’Shaugnessy said he had been delighted to be invited to participate in the event and though he was

stationed in Iran he had made many trips to Pakistan and was familiar with the peoples love for cricket. He concluded by wishing all teams a pleasant stay ‘down under’ and a cheerful “may the best team win.”
In conclusion a cake was cut with envoys of cricketing countries along with Aziz Boolani and Intikhab Alam taking part in the ceremony. Refreshments were served and young Pakistani vocalists took the stage to entertain the guests. Despite the chill there was a great feeling of warmth and bonhomie as guests circulated and discussed cricket, with politics taking a back seat for a change.

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