Immigration Australia considered the refugee claim of a Pakistani origin cricketer Fawad Ahmed as borderline and rejected it. However, through politicalpressure and lobbying of Cricket Australia, anamendment was quietly passed to fast track Mr. Ahmed’s case. The Australian immigrationminister Chris Bowen approved the permanent resident visa as the best option despite the fact the Australia immigration department recommended six months tourist visa for him.
Fawad Ahmed, an asylum seeker from Pakistan and talented cricket player, was portrayed as the possible savior of Australian cricket team in the media. On the other hand, Australia immigration considered most of his claims of possibility of persecution in his native country Pakistan as unrealistic.
Ahmed’s claim for asylum was initially rejected by both the ImmigrationDepartment and Refugee Review Tribunal and he was at the verge of being deported from Australia.
Derek Bennett from the Melbourne University Cricket Club intervened and wrote to the immigration minister in a private letter that Refugee Review Tribunal decision was unfair. Mr. Bennet wrote that Fawad will be assassinated by Taliban who are against the game of cricket.
According to the report by ABC, the Australian Immigration department thought if the minister decided to intervene in the asylum case, “most appropriate” option would be to grant a six-month tourist visa. Permanent visa was not suggested in Fawad Ahmed’s case.
A ministerial briefing document from the Immigration Department stated,”If you decide to intervene, the most appropriate visa to grant is a [tourist visa] … with work rights.”
However, getting a professional cricket contract required that Mr. Ahmed must hold a permanent visa. So Mr. Bowen had no other option but to grant him the permanent visa.
Mr. Bowen said in a statement, “The decision for ministerial intervention was the right one.” “Fawad is a great addition to Australia; he has already made great contributions to his community and the nation”, added the immigrationminister.
Fawad Ahmed has played one day and twenty twenty matches for Australia, however, he has not been included in the Australian Cricket team to play test match.
The special treatment of the cricketer’s refugee case has raised questions as he has been granted permanent visa at the expense of other asylum seeker.