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Malik reunites with wife in India
March 31, 2005 10:46 IST
Pakistan's historic cricket tour of India, a sign of growing warmth between the rivals, has helped reunite cricketer Shoaib Malik with the Indian wife he married over the telephone.
Malik fell in love with Ayesha Siddiqui, from Hyderabad in south India, five years ago.
The two secretly married in 2002, exchanging vows over the telephone amid political hostility between the two neighbouring countries and doubts whether their marriage would receive parental approval.
Islamic Sharia laws recognise the exchange of marriage vows over the telephone.
"We first met at Sharjah. Shoaib brought my hotel keys which I had forgotten at a coffee shop," said Ayesha, recalling their first meeting.
Though both families later accepted the alliance, the marriage remained under wraps as Malik and Ayesha, working at a school in Saudi Arabia, were mostly forced to stay apart.
The couple finally went public during the current cricket tour by Pakistan, their first full series in India since 1999.
Ayesha's parents hosted a dinner in Hyderabad on Tuesday for the entire Pakistan team to formally receive their son-in-law.
Farookh Sultana, Malik's mother accompanying her son on the tour, expressed her delight.
"We're more than pleased. I wanted to get an Indian bride for him," she was quoted as saying by Hyderabad newspapers.
"Ayesha fits the bill more than anything we expected. We knew about them, but waited till the children were bold enough to inform us. We will have a formal wedding soon in India itself," she said.
Ties between India and Pakistan have been frosty for most of the nearly 60 years since Pakistan was created after the partition of the subcontinent in 1947.
The neighbours have fought three wars, two of them over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, the issue almost triggering a fourth war in 2002.
Ties have since warmed and a cricket tour last year, the first by India to Pakistan for 14 years, reminded both sides how much they shared in terms of culture, history and outlook.
Ayesha's mother Farissa said: "I am glad my daughter fell for a bright and sweet boy."
Ayesha hopes to join Malik in his hometown, Sialkot, in August, family members said.
Thousands of Pakistan fans have used the opportunity of the cricket series to visit India, meeting long-lost relatives or visiting what had been ancestral homes.
Thousands of families have relatives on either side of the border, many linked by marriage, but visa restrictions make travel difficult.Pakistan drew a keenly fought three-Test series 1-1 this week. A six-match one-day series starts on Saturday.