Pakistan bus driver receives rousing welcome
The man who prevented a Munich 1972 in Lahore last month Mohammad Khalil, the Pakistani driver of the Sri Lankan team bus was felicitated yesterday at Sri Lanka Cricket headquarters by both players and administrators.
All members of the Sri Lankan cricket squad and most of the members of the support staff were present at SLC headquarters as Khalil arrived for a state sponsored holiday in Sri Lanka with his wife.
There were glowing tributes by all Sri Lankan cricketers and officials for Khalil’s courageous act that saved the lives of the members of the Sri Lankan cricket team, who were ambushed by masked gunmen on their way to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore for the third day’s play of the second Test match against Pakistan. The deadly ambush resulted in six policemen being killed, several injured, including seven members of the Sri Lankan touring party.
The feeling among the Sri Lankan players was summed up by an impromptu speech by captian Kumar Sangakkara. "In a world that has gone mad in thirst for war and domination, when we were attacked by the terrorists, who had brought so many different types of weopons, we are here today thanks to one unarmed man, who had no military expertise. His courage and his quick thinking saved so many of us. We will always have a special place for you in our hearts,"
Sangakkara said yesterday.
"God made man and Samuel Colt made them equal. We have come a long way since Samuel Colt invented the revolver in mastering and perfecting the art of war and destruction. In Lahore last month, we experienced something that we never dreamt of. Our belief that after post 1972 Munich a sports team would not be attacked by terrorists were shattered," Sangakkara added.
"In shah Allah, I did not feel scared at all and never thought of jumping out of the bus to save myself," Khalil, who is a driver employed by the Pakistani Cricket Board said through a translator. He also expressed his gratitude for the Sri Lankan board for sending the national cricket team to Pakistan at a time when all countries were refusing to tour the country due to security concerns.
Khalil also received a cash bonanza that amounted to over Rs. 2.5 million with Sri Lanka Cricket donating a sum of US$ 10,000. Sri Lanka Telecom and the Sports Ministry donated sums of Rs. 500,000 each while Ten Sports, the television rights holders of Sri Lanka donated US$ 2500. The Sri Lankan cricketers also donated an undisclosed sum to Khalil at the end of the media briefing.