Harbhajjan warns India stars to expect sleepless night as Pakistan loom

Arch rivals India and Pakistan to clash on Sunday June 16, 2019 - AFP
Updated 15 June 2019

Harbhajjan warns India stars to expect sleepless night as Pakistan loom

  • Perennial political rivals India and Pakistan will face off in Manchester on Sunday
  • Match will be one of World Cup’s most hotly-anticipated and massively-watched games

LONDON: Harbhajjan Singh has warned India’s stars to expect a sleepless night ahead of their World Cup showdown with arch rivals Pakistan on Sunday.
India legend Harbhajjan knows from bitter experience just how stressful it is to take part in one of the most fierce rivalries in world sport.
The tense political situation between India and Pakistan lends an extra level of animosity whenever the feuding neighbors clash on the cricket pitch.
Their latest meeting comes with the stakes even higher than usual in the World Cup at Old Trafford this weekend and Harbhajjan is well aware just how high emotions will be running on the pitch and in the stands.
The 38-year-old spinner played 17 times against Pakistan in a 236-match ODI career for India, including arguably their biggest ever match in the 2011 World Cup semifinals on home soil in Chandigarh.
It was such a critical fixture that Harbhajjan lay awake for hours tossing and turning in bed the night before the game as he visualized the furious response from the Indian public if they lost.
“The memories of that game was I couldn’t sleep the night before, even though I tried my best,” Harbhajjan said.
“I was just worried about what would happen if we lost the game. There were a lot of thoughts coming into my mind.
“People get angry and they can do anything. In the 2003 World Cup we didn’t play one game as well as we should have against Australia and people got really angry.
“They were just burning our stuff and throwing stones at our homes. They get a bit emotional.”
Despite his sleep-deprived preparation, Harbhajjan took two wickets as India beat Pakistan by 29 runs, with his side going on to win the World Cup for the second time.
Even with a disastrous defeat averted, the adrenaline of victory kept Harbhajjan from sleeping the night after the match as well.
“When we won the game I couldn’t sleep the next day either because I was too excited and too happy. That’s what the Pakistan game does to you,” he said.
“Obviously it’s one of those games when the pressure is a little more than when you play against England or New Zealand.
“People in both countries want their respective teams to win and if you end up losing the game the people really get up upset and they go on to lose their minds, which is obviously quite bad.”
Although they were crushed by Pakistan in the 2017 Champions Trophy final, India have never lost to them at a World Cup, winning at the last two tournaments, and are favorites to extend that run when the rivalry resumes in Manchester.
However, Harbhajjan acknowledges India’s status brings its own burdens, raising expectations among their passionate fanbase of another win over the old enemy.
“As a player you always want to play well against Pakistan, so there is more pressure. It’s not just for Indian players but for Pakistani players as well,” he said.
“But there is more pressure on the Indian players because we have a very good record in these games and we don’t want to change that.”


Pakistan probes multibillion-rupee losses from cargo misdeclaration

Updated 04 February 2020

Pakistan probes multibillion-rupee losses from cargo misdeclaration

  • Incidents of fraud reported at Torkham, Quetta and Karachi customs stations
  • Automation of the system needed to prevent corruption in duty collection, experts say 

KARACHI: Pakistan’s tax authorities are investigating a series of fraud incidents at the country’s main customs stations, which inflicted multibillion-rupee losses on Pakistan’s economy, an official confirmed on Sunday.

Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) spokesman Hamid Ateeq Sarwar told Arab News an investigation “is underway” and its findings will be shared with the public. 

The FBR’s Directorate General of Customs Intell­igence and Investigation, in early January, uncovered a case involving a network of top officials suspected of a large-scale practice of cargo misdeclaration which it estimates resulted in state losses of billions of rupees.

A report by the directorate sent to the FBR chairman indicated that “organized fraudulent activity (is) taking place at Torkham Customs station through which foreign origin goods are being smuggled.” An initial investigation disclosed that 110 vehicles carrying imported goods have passed the checkpoint on the border with Afghanistan uncharged, the document seen by Arab News reads. 

Similar incidents of misdeclaration were detected in Karachi and Quetta, where more than 900 containers were cleared without paying duties. 

Customs experts are calling for all officials involved in the incidents to be punished. “No matter how influential those involved are they should be given exemplary punishment so that such incidents are prevented in future,” Abdul Qadir Memon, lawyer and former president of the Karachi Tax Bar Association, said.

While corruption appears to be the main obstacle to the FBR’s sound functioning, according to Memon, the problem could be solved by technology. “Automation of the system and installation of scanners at customs stations is key to eliminating corrupt practices. Improvement in the audit system may prevent under-invoicing,” he told Arab News.

The incidents of mass fraud are yet another blow to the FBR, which at the same time is facing a leadership crisis, with its chairman Syed Shabbar Zaidi’s health reportedly deteriorating due to acute stress.

The FBR is also facing a shortfall of around Rs218 billion against its revised revenue target of Rs2.62 trillion set for the July 2019–January 2020 period. 

All these result in an atmosphere of uncertainty, which “is the worst one can afford at this moment. Revenue mobilization is necessary for Pakistan’s economic viability as a state,” taxation expert Dr. Ikram ul Haq told Arab News.

The developments raise concerns over the International Monetary Fund (IMF) second quarterly review of Pakistan’s $6 billion bailout program. IMF representatives arrived in Islamabad on Monday.