I had a little role to play in the Shoaib Malik-Ayesha Siddiqui Wedding saga (Click link for details). In March 2002, Malik came to me during the Asian Test championship final between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at Lahore. He asked me if I could help publish the news of his nikah with a girl settled in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (follow link for details of Ayesha in Jeddah). I emailed the news to a friend in Arab News and the story came out the following day. Malik thanked me, saying that her family had seen the story. In September 2004, Malik accepted in a popular television programme called Ek Din Geo ke Saath that he had married Ayesha.
In 2005, most of us journalists touring India attended a function hosted by the Siddiquis in their Hyderabad house. Ayesha was missing, and Malik later told us that she was not in town. Three years later, we learnt that the Siddiqui family wanted Malik to either accept or divorce Ayesha.
What we gather is this: As a member of the Pakistani ODI team to Sharjah in 2000, Malik met Ayesha along with her friend, Maha, in a Dubai restaurant. Malik liked Maha, and Ayesha realised that. On her return, Ayesha wrote emails to Malik, posing as Maha. She also sent Maha’s picture as hers.
When the two families agreed to a wedding, Ayesha sent her original picture, a bit bulky and bespectacled. Malik got angry and said that he would not like to marry her. Recently, Ayesha claimed that two senior Pakistani players—Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf—could confirm that she and Malik lived together in the team hotel in Hyderabad.
Malik and Sania have been romancing since 2003, away from the glare of the media. They have met off and on and were in regular touch, mostly on phone. Earlier this year, Malik and Sania spent time in Melbourne. Sania was playing and Malik was on the sidelines after being ousted from the Pakistan team.
“Malik along with fielding and bowling coach Waqar Younis took permission to attend tennis matches and we allowed him. He later invited Sania to the team hotel and both had lunch and dinner together,” a team official on the tour said.
Malik, one of the most talented cricketers in Pakistan, derailed his career in the last three years because of his own insecurities. Instead of believing in his own enormous talent, Malik has become negative. On March 10, Malik along with six top players were handed bans and fines.
Sania’s background is different from his. Malik comes from a modest family. They used to live in downtown Sialkot and it was only after Malik played for Pakistan and later for Gloucestershire that the family bought a new house in Sialkot Cantonment. Then, through Shoaib Akhtar, Malik bought a villa in the posh Defence area of Lahore. His father, Faqeer Malik, a businessman, died in 2006.
Malik is very possessive and will have to change his attitude. Sania plays with male players, and for her, hugging a man is very common. Malik’s family, especially his mother, might not take kindly to it. It is almost a tradition that Punjabi boys follow their mothers more than their fathers. Ayesha herself has said that Malik’s father was supportive of her. “Shoaib would always make fun of my being fat,” she had said. “His father was a very good and kind person. He backed me as his bahu. But since his death, things started to change.”