Pakistan cricket chief wants teams to return to his country

Pakistan's cricketers celebrate after the dismissal of Sri Lanka's batsman Avishka Fernando during the second one day international (ODI) cricket match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at the National Cricket Stadium in Karachi on September 30, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 01 October 2019

Pakistan cricket chief wants teams to return to his country

  • Mani said officials from Cricket Australia also visited Pakistan recently
  • Pakistan is due to host Sri Lanka for two test matches as part of World Test Championship in December

KARACHI: The return of limited-overs international cricket to Pakistan after a 10-year absence following a terrorist attack targeting a foreign team has coincided with a renewed plea from the country’s cricket chief to recommence full, in-bound tours.
Pakistan had a 67-run victory over Sri Lanka on Monday to kick start the important cricket homecoming, which was delayed an extra couple of days because of the weather. It’s the first time since Sri Lanka’s team bus was attacked on the way to a stadium at Lahore in 2009 that a foreign team is conducting a two-week tour of Pakistan.
Major teams have avoided the country since the ambush that killed eight people and injured several star players. This series, initially scheduled to include three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 internationals — went ahead after the Pakistan government assured the Sri Lanka delegation of high-level security normally reserved for heads of state.
It will be the longest period in a decade for any of the top-ranking national cricket teams to have visited Pakistan, which has been “hosting” games abroad mostly in the United Arab Emirates.
Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani says he wants more international teams to return to Pakistan instead of playing at neutral venues.
“It’s so important that the game wins over any threats and terrorism,” Mani told a news conference Monday. “The main thing is that the security and safety of the players cannot be compromised, so it was important that the Sri Lankan (cricket) board was comfortable.”
Harin Fernando, Sri Lanka’s minister for telecommunications, foreign employment and sports, says the bilateral series is important to show regional support.
“Cricket has become a universal game and it’s not just about the competitiveness, but it is also about showing solidarity among the neighboring nations,” Fernando said. “Life has to go on. We have to move on, sports should not stop. I believe players of other countries will also come.”
The team buses are heavily surrounded by armed security personnel between the hotels and the playing venues, and the main roads along the route are being blocked from normal traffic.
Security staff also keep a close eye on the spectators coming into the stadium.
“What amazes me is the amount of security that have been given and how they’ve looked after it,” Fernando said. “To see that you will recognize every gate, every aspect, every person who gets into the ground and gets out of the ground is being monitored.”
Mani said officials from Cricket Australia also visited Pakistan recently and met with government and PCB officials. And the PCB chairman said officials from England and Ireland are scheduled to visit Pakistan soon to assess the security situation.
“The message is getting across and that is why this (Sri Lanka) tour was so important for us,” Mani said. “We can all say things are fine, come and have a look, but when cricket is actually taking place in Pakistan there’s no better endorsement than that.”
Several top Sri Lanka players pulled out of the tour, but Fernando said those players who came to Pakistan could boost the confidence of those who missed out.
Pakistan is due to host Sri Lanka for two test matches as part of World Test Championship in December and Fernando was optimistic his country would host the pair of five-day games.
“I thought this tour had to happen if we have to play a test series here, so I think I’m quite positive,” he said.
Mani said Pakistan will have to maintain high security for some time to reassure visiting teams.
“It’s for us as Pakistan to make sure that the standards (of security) that we have given to the Sri Lankan cricket board remain consistent,” he said. “I’m confident that the message going out is a strong and powerful one.”
Mani said he didn’t want to put Sri Lanka Cricket under any pressure for December’s test series, but he hoped that “players who are here will act as ambassadors for Pakistan by going back and giving their version of security.”
Pakistan’s ultimate goal, he said, is to make visiting teams comfortable instead of the focus being on the security around them. And Mani is realistic: “It might take a couple of years.”


Pakistan to be part of new Saudi foreign manpower program 

Updated 14 November 2019

Pakistan to be part of new Saudi foreign manpower program 

  • New skills-based system to be launched from next month
  • Will include India, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Starting next month, Saudi Arabia will introduce a new skilled foreign manpower program that will eventually include Pakistan, a senior official at the Saudi labor ministry said this week. 

Nayef Al-Omair, head of the vocational examination program at the Ministry of Labor, said on Tuesday in Riyadh that the ministry was categorizing the tasks and the structure of some professions for visa-issuing purposes.

Under the new policy, visas would be issued only after skill tests and the previous system would be gradually phased out. 

The new scheme would be optional for one year starting December 2019 after which it would become compulsory, Al-Omair said. The new program would first be applied to manpower recruited from India due to its large size in the Saudi market.

Eventually, the program will cover seven countries, including India, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Workers belonging to these states constitute 95 percent of professional manpower in the Kingdom’s local market.

Saudi Arabia is home to around 2.6 million Pakistani expats those have been a vital source of foreign remittances.

Last year the country received $21.8 billion in remittances out of which $5 billion were remitted by Pakistani nationals working in Kingdom.

According to the Pakistani ministry of finance, there was a major decline in manpower export to Saudi Arabia where only 100,910 emigrants proceeded for employment in 2018 as compared to 2017, a drop of 42,453 emigrants.

However, Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari, special assistant to the Pakistani prime minister on overseas Pakistanis, said in an interview earlier this month that Saudi Arabia had agreed to increase the share of the Pakistani labor force in the multi-billion dollar New Taif City development.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have formed working groups to develop procedures for this transfer of manpower. Pakistani groups will visit the Kingdom in the coming months to finalize arrangements.