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Outcry to rename Gaddafi stadium

Anita Joshua

ISLAMABAD: The mass upheaval in Libya and the crackdown on protesters by their ruler of 41 years, Muammar Qadhafi, has triggered a curious discussion in Pakistan: Should the country's most famous cricket ground, the Gaddafi Stadium, in Lahore still bear his name?

The blogosphere has been abuzz with posts on the subject from Pakistanis watching with alarm the violence unleashed by the Qadhafi regime on Libyans. Sample this: “Why does this dictator get the name of our premier cricket ground? How can a murderer's name be associated with the game of cricket. Pakistan must change the name of Gaddafi Stadium as soon as possible to show solidarity with the innocent people of Libya, who are struggling to get independence from a cruel dictator.”

Divided opinion

These comments were among the slew of posts that have been criss-crossing the Internet over the past couple of days but opinion has been divided. Some, mindful of the Pakistanis working in Libya, advocated caution, stating that the stadium should be renamed only after Colonel Qadhafi was ousted, while others maintained that it would be pointless to rechristen it now, as the ruling dispensation would get another facility to name after the former Pakistan Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto.

Originally called the Lahore Stadium when it opened in 1959, the cricket ground was renamed Gaddafi Stadium in 1974 in honour of the Libyan leader after his “rousing speech” at an Organisation of the Islamic Conference meeting in favour of Pakistan's right to have a nuclear weapons programme. It houses the Pakistan Cricket Board, was the venue of the 1996 World Cup final, and saw the Sri Lankan cricket team come under terrorist attack in the golden jubilee year of the stadium, after which no international cricket team has toured the country.

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