ISLAMABAD  - Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) minister Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada Saturday termed Sri Lanka as his second home and described them as Pakistan's very close friends and said he was rooting for Sri Lanka alongside Pakistan in the World Cup.

Riaz expressed these views while talking exclusively with The Nation on Saturday. He said Sri Lankans always stands by Pakistan through thick and thin and they are very grateful to them. “Despite attack on their cricket team in the unfortunate Lahore incident, they never turn their backs on Pakistan. We salute their gesture and will never forget their brotherly treatment rendered to Pakistan in all the sporting fields. Whenever Pakistan wanted Sri Lankan teams weather cricket table tennis, football or any other sports they always responded in positive manner.”

Riaz said if the Sri Lankan cricket team tours Pakistan, they would be accorded memorable welcome and would be given red box security. “Now by the grace of God and with superb efforts by our Army after operation Zarb-e-Azb, things are quite different and security situation is far better. We would left no stone unturned and initiate best possible measures to ensure no repeat of that bizarre Lahore incident.” Riaz said Zimbabwe are willing to tour Pakistan, which is not only great positive sign but also shows that international teams trust current government. “I am sure international cricket return to Pakistan would help people to get over that dark days period when nobody was ready to tour Pakistan.” When asked about Pakistan cricket teams poor showing in the world cup and why as Sports Minister he didn't take any action against the culprits and they are still enjoying all the perks and privileges, Riaz said reaching quarterfinals was not an easy task and green caps played really well and deserved much better treatment. “Look at New Zealand; they played so well till the final and lost very badly, but no one in New Zealand said even a single word against their heroes and gave them tremendous reception. But when it comes to Pakistan or India, masses gave too much harsh and totally unjustified treatment. They burn effigies and stone pelting witnessed at cricketers houses. That is highly regrettable and we must give respect to our heroes.”

About Pakistan Sports Board’s employees, Riaz said as Minister it was his duty to keep check and balance and when he took notice that some were not present in their offices during his surprise visit, he sought the explanation. He said he was happy now they were following instructions now and carry on their duties in positive fashion and he would take full care of them as they always perform exceptional duties. About long standing bonuses he announced for hostel employees during international table tennis event and also during the Masters Cup TT Championship, Riaz said they had to follow set set procedures and all the promises would be fulfilled.

About parallel sports bodies, Riaz said: “it is true people who long occupying federation offices and are unwilling to relinquish seats and when finally they were thrown out through elections they start intriguing and formed parallel bodies. But I would not let them do so and would discourage such practices. Table Tennis Federation has done a tremendous job by organising back-to-back events and also an international event and now 3 male and 3 females would represent Pakistan in World Table Tennis Championship in China. We would support youth in the best possible fashion as they are the future medal hopes at international competitions and would also pay special attention towards promotion of female sports and girls would be provided extra care in the coming days. Riaz said Pakistan Hockey Federation would soon get the special grant as hockey is our national game as declared by Quaid-e-Azam and they would not left them in the cold and take good care of them.