KARACHI: Superstar allrounder Shahid Afridi is to campaign to get Pakistanis out to vote in the cricket-mad country’s upcoming general election.
The big-hitting Afridi, one of the country’s biggest sports stars who has previously led media drives urging parents to vaccinate children against polio, said the election commission had asked him to get involved.
“The commission has invited me to play my part and stress to the public the importance of casting their votes and I am going to participate in the campaign,” Afridi told AFP.
The 33-year-old denied he was joining any political party after reports circulated in local media that he was becoming a member of former premier Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
“I have no plans to join politics,” said Afridi, who was named in Pakistan’s initial 30-man squad for the Champions Trophy to be held in June in England. “I am enjoying cricket at the moment.
“I just went to condole the death of Sharif’s brother because he was kind enough to enquire about my father’s illness,” said Afridi, whose father died of cancer in 2011.
Sharif’s younger brother Abbas died in January this year.
Sharif, who played one first-class match for Pakistan Railways in 1973, actively supported sports as prime minister and his country won its only World Cup title in 1992 while he was in power.
Afridi said he was inclined to social service without joining politics.
“The prime objective is to serve the people of Pakistan and I feel that doesn’t need me to join politics,” said Afridi.
The move from cricket to politics is not unusual in Pakistan, with World Cup winning captain Imran Khan forming his own political party – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (Movement for Justice) in 1996 after retiring from the game.
His former bowling partner Sarfraz Nawaz served as a provincial assembly member, while former opening batsman Aamir Sohail also joined Sharif’s party last year.