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Sania Mirza Marriage Decision Right or Wrong?

By Mohammed Shafeeq Hyderabad, March 30 (IANS) The decision of Indian tennis star Sania Mirza to tie the knot with Shoaib Malik has baffled people in her home town and triggered a debate on her move in view of the controversy involving the Pakistani cricketer.

The people, especially youngsters, were heard discussing the possible impact of the wedding on India-Pakistan relations, on her tennis career and whether Sania would remain an Indian citizen or become a Pakistani.

There is also speculation that the 23-year-old would stop playing tennis after the 2012 Olympics.

Coming a couple of months after she called off her engagement to childhood friend Sohrab Mirza citing "incompatibility", the news of her proposed marriage with former Pakistani captain has surprised her fans and critics alike.

Shoaib, 28, had reportedly married Ayesha Siddiqui, daughter of a businessman from this city, in 2002 but the Pakistani star later denied the marriage.

Even close family friends of Sania had no information about the alliance till her family Monday night confirmed a report by Pakistani television channel Geo News.

Some of her fans believe that she has taken a risk by choosing a Pakistani as her life partner given the strained relations between the two neighbours.

Sania Mirza is perhaps the first Indian sporting celebrity to marry a Pakistani who is also a sports star in his country. The news of the marriage has attracted intense attention here.

"Sania and Shoaib will make a handsome couple. I wish her all the best," said S. Rashmi, a student.

The opinion was divided on whether the alliance would help strengthen people-to-people ties. "Marriage of the two celebrities would make no difference to Indo-Pak relations as they would have no influence on the powers that decide the foreign policies," said M.A. Amir, a software professional.

Though Sania's family in their statement said she would settle down in Dubai after the marriage and would continue to represent India in coming events, her relatives were tight-lipped on whether she would remain an Indian or accept Pakistani citizenship after a few years. "I don't think she will ever accept Pakistani citizenship given the strained relations between the two countries," feels Fauzan Hashmi, a student.

Sania's critics feel she has committed a "double fault" by breaking off the engagement with her childhood friend and then choosing a Pakistani, who allegedly cheated a girl from her own city after marrying her.

"Sania has made Hyderabad and India proud through her achievements but she should not have landed herself in a controversy by choosing a man who is accused of cheating a girl," said Sana Khan, a housewife.

Controversies surrounded Sania and they infact overshadowed her tennis career. Muslim clergy had taken strong exception to her dress on court and her reported remarks on pre-marital sex. She, however, denied making the remarks.

Sania, who has one single WTA title, eight doubles and one mixed doubles title, had a meteoric rise on Indian sports. She became the highest ranking Indian woman tennis player by breaking into the top 30 in world ranking. However, the poor performances during the last couple of years saw her ranking slipping to 92nd this month. She had once said that her tennis career may end without winning a Grand Slam titile.

Shoaib had called off his engagement with Ayesha Siddiqui in January 2008 saying the two families could not reach an understanding on some issues. Ayesha's father M.A. Siddiqui had even threatened to sue Malik for cheating and demanded him to give a formal divorce.

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