Afghanistan to host Pakistan for three T20Is in Sharjah

Afghanistan to host Pakistan for three T20Is in Sharjah
Pakistan's Babar Azam (R) plays a shot as Afghanistan's wicketkeeper Ikram Ali Khil looks on during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between Pakistan and Afghanistan at Headingley in Leeds, northern England, on June 29, 2019. (AFP/File)
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Updated 07 March 2023

Afghanistan to host Pakistan for three T20Is in Sharjah

Afghanistan to host Pakistan for three T20Is in Sharjah
  • Afghanistan Cricket Board says their home season will start with Pakistan series
  • This will be the first bilateral cricket series between the two neighbouring countries

KABUL: Afghanistan announced on Tuesday it will host Pakistan for three Twenty20 internationals in Sharjah later this month, the first bilateral series between the neighbours. 

Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) said their home season will start with the series against Pakistan. 

"Afghanistan's international home season 2023-24 will begin with a three-match T20I home series against Pakistan to be played in Sharjah on March 25, 27 and 29," said a ACB release. 

Afghanistan was due to start its season with a one-day international series against Australia in March this year but Cricket Australia refused to play in protest at the treatment of women in the war-torn country. 

Cricket Australia had also refused to host Afghanistan for a Test match in November 2021 for the same reason. 

ACB chairman Mirwais Ashraf welcomed Pakistan's decision to play his team. 

"We appreciate Pakistan Cricket Board's willingness to play Afghanistan in March. This is a significant accomplishment for two neighbouring countries," Ashraf said in the statement. 

Afghanistan has played Pakistan in three Twenty20 internationals and four ODIs in multi-national events but this will be the first bilateral series between the two countries. 

Pakistani FM ‘hopeful’ flood aid promises will be fulfilled

Pakistani FM ‘hopeful’ flood aid promises will be fulfilled
Updated 23 September 2023

Pakistani FM ‘hopeful’ flood aid promises will be fulfilled

Pakistani FM ‘hopeful’ flood aid promises will be fulfilled
  • Floods last year inflicted over $30bn in damage, economic losses on Pakistan
  • While donors have pledged around $10bn in aid, it has yet to be disbursed

NEW YORK: Pakistan is “hopeful” that pledged reconstruction funding to rebuild parts of the country damaged by floods last year will be disbursed soon, Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani said on Friday.

At a press conference during the UN General Assembly in New York, he told Arab News: “Pakistan is one of the worst affected as far as climate change is concerned because it has affected about 33 million people.

“One-third of the country was inundated with water, and about $30 billion worth of losses were suffered.”

Pakistan was devastated by the 2022 floods, which were the world’s deadliest since those in southern Asia in 2020.

About a month after last year’s disaster, Pakistan and other countries attending the UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt decided to establish the Loss and Damage Fund to assist countries in dealing with the effects of climate change.

Many donors have pledged funds to help Pakistan rebuild flood-affected areas. The Islamic Development Bank pledged more than $4 billion, the World Bank $2 billion and Saudi Arabia $1 billion.

“So far, there has been very little which has trickled down from the international community as far as the rehabilitation and reconstruction work that has to be carried out. Pakistan is doing that from its own resources,” Jilani told Arab News.

“Our banks are issuing loans on easy terms to all those people who were affected. But then obviously, there are limits to what the banking industry can do.

“This is the kind of situation we’re in. I think we’re hopeful that most of the promises which were made by the donors will be fulfilled shortly.”

Regarding foreign policy, Jilani described the formation of new blocs and rivalries in the Asia-Pacific region as “a very uncomfortable situation” for Pakistan.

“Asia-Pacific has been a very peaceful region, a prosperous region, and it has made great economic strides in the last 40-50 years. Any tension within the Asia-Pacific region, from our point of view, is certainly not good for peace and stability in the region,” he said, adding that Pakistan prioritizes good relations with all countries, specifically mentioning China and the US.

When asked about Islamabad’s potential to confront the Pakistani Taliban, which operates along the border with Afghanistan, Jilani said: “Afghanistan is a sovereign country. Pakistan follows a policy of non-interference … while respecting the sovereignty of other countries.

“At the same time, we have expectations that the Afghan side would take action against all groups who are violating Afghanistan’s soil to carry out terrorist activities against other countries.”

Jilani added that during a meeting between the foreign ministers of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan in May, “there was a reiteration of this commitment by the Afghan side that they won’t allow Afghan soil to be used against other countries.”

Jilani also praised Pakistan’s commitment to democracy and free elections. “We’re a democratic country. There’s absolutely no doubt about it. In Pakistan, when parliament has completed its full term, it’s a constitutional requirement that there’s a caretaker setup which is meant to ensure neutrality in the next elections,” he said.

“This is meant to ensure that the elections are free and fair, and is meant to ensure that people are able to participate in the voting process without any violence.”

Jilani said Pakistan is heavily involved in efforts to tackle Islamophobia in Europe, and had made a case for the criminalization of religious-based hate speech in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s Contact Group on Muslims in Europe.

“We also appreciated the introduction of a bill by the government of Denmark which would criminalize such offenses, either the burning of holy books or insulting the prophets of any religion. I think this is a good step they’ve taken,” he added, saying he is hopeful that if such a bill passed in Demark, other European nations may follow suit.

India dethrone Pakistan to become top-ranked ODI side ahead of World Cup

India dethrone Pakistan to become top-ranked ODI side ahead of World Cup
Updated 23 September 2023

India dethrone Pakistan to become top-ranked ODI side ahead of World Cup

India dethrone Pakistan to become top-ranked ODI side ahead of World Cup
  • India become top-ranked side in all three formats of cricket after beating Australia by 5 wickets
  • Pakistan slump to number 2 rankings after losing to Sri Lanka, India in Asia Cup’s Super Four clashes

ISLAMABAD: India brushed aside Pakistan to claim the top spot in the One Day International rankings this week, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said on Saturday, with the development taking place less than two weeks before the World Cup kicks off.
India scripted history on Friday after beating Australia in the first of the three-match ODI series between the two sides. After beating Australia by five wickets in what was a one-sided match, India became only the second team in history to top all cricket formats. South Africa were the only side to have achieved the feat in 2012.
Rohit Sharma’s side were already the top-ranked team in Test and T20 formats of cricket before climbing to the top in the ODI format. Pakistan had regained the top ranking in ODIs after losing to India and Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup after India lost to Bangladesh in the Super Four stage of the tournament.
“India have become the No.1 ranked team across all formats in the
@mrfworldwide ICC Men’s Team Rankings,” the International Cricket Council (ICC) said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

India’s win over Australia in Mohali took them to 116 rating points, one ahead of Pakistan, who have now slumped to number 2 in the ranking.
Sharma’s side, however, could slump down the table if Australia— on 111 points— win the remaining two matches in the series against India.
If India win the series, they will head into the showpiece tournament as the world’s top-ranked ODI team.
Pakistan, meanwhile, head into the World Cup at the back of a disappointing performance in the Asia Cup tournament and injury woes.
Chief Selector Inzamam-ul-Haq on Friday announced the 15-man World Cup squad for the Babar Azam-led side, which included pacer Hassan Ali instead of ace bowler Naseem Shah.
Shah has been ruled out of the upcoming tournament due to a shoulder injury he suffered during the Asia Cup. Pacer Haris Rauf also sat out part of Pakistan’s match against India after he suffered discomfort in his right flank.
Pakistan open their World Cup campaign against the Netherlands on October 6.

Pakistan PM says Sikh separatist leader’s killing, linked to India, ‘jolted’ West

Pakistan PM says Sikh separatist leader’s killing, linked to India, ‘jolted’ West
Updated 23 September 2023

Pakistan PM says Sikh separatist leader’s killing, linked to India, ‘jolted’ West

Pakistan PM says Sikh separatist leader’s killing, linked to India, ‘jolted’ West
  • Canada’s PM said last week his government has ‘credible intelligence’ Indian agents were involved in Sikh activist’s killing
  • Pakistan’s Caretaker PM Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar says an alliance should be formed to check India’s ‘rough behavior’

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said the “gruesome murder” of a Sikh separatist leader in Canada months ago had jolted the West, which was now questioning the involvement of the Indian state in the incident, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) said in a report on Saturday.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last Monday infuriated New Delhi when he said his country had “credible intelligence” Indian agents were involved in Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s killing in June this year.
Trudeau’s comments sparked off a diplomatic row between Ottawa and New Delhi, with both states expelling senior diplomats from each other’s countries following the accusations. Pakistan’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday that Nijjar’s killing was a violation of international law and showed New Delhi’s “network of extra-territorial killings” had gone global.
“Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on Friday said that the gruesome murder of Khalistan Movement Sikh leader in Canada had jolted the West that raised serious questions about the role of Indian state,” the APP said, adding that the prime minister was speaking at the Pakistan Mission in New York.
Kakar said Pakistan had been a victim of such “state-sponsored terrorism” and that he had shared evidence of the same at different global and multilateral fora. The Pakistani prime minister said it was probably the first incident of its kind after World War I in which an Asian country had staged a “physical murder” on European soil.
The Pakistani premier said the killing’s impact was being felt across Western countries which were now realizing the extent to which India targets its minorities.
“The prime minister opined that an alliance should be formed to check such ‘rough behavior’ of India,” APP said.
During his address to the UN General Assembly on Friday, Kakar spoke about Pakistan’s relations with its nuclear-armed neighbor, saying that his country desired “peaceful and productive” relations with all neighbors including India.
“Global powers should convince New Delhi to accept Pakistan’s offer of mutual restraint on strategic and conventional weapons,” he said, adding that the disputed Kashmir region provided the key to peace between the two neighboring states.
He also spoke about the rising threat posed by “far-right extremist and fascist groups such as Hindutva inspired extremists threatening genocide against Indian Muslims and Christians alike.”

Pakistan’s EDUCAST to launch telemedicine services in Sudan with support from Islamic Development Bank

Pakistan’s EDUCAST to launch telemedicine services in Sudan with support from Islamic Development Bank
Updated 23 September 2023

Pakistan’s EDUCAST to launch telemedicine services in Sudan with support from Islamic Development Bank

Pakistan’s EDUCAST to launch telemedicine services in Sudan with support from Islamic Development Bank
  • EDUCAST CEO says testing of equipment, identification of sites completed, operations to launch within four weeks
  • Karachi-based EDUCAST will jointly launch Sudan program with Yemen’s Building Foundation for Development

KARACHI: Pakistani digital health service provider EDUCAST will launch ‘first of its kind’ mobile telemedicine operations in Sudan within a month to offer medical support and assist local health care providers, the CEO of the company said this week.

Karachi-based EDUCAST, a digital health services and online medical education providing platform, signed an agreement in July with the Building Foundation for Development (BFD), a humanitarian organization headquartered in Yemen to work together in Sudan. The Science and Technology Innovation Department of the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank is supporting the project.

More than five months into a conflict between Sudan’s army and paramilitary group, Rapid Support Forces, the country’s health care sector is on its knees due to direct attacks from the warring parties as well as shortages of staff and medicines, they said. A World Health Organization (WHO) official said this week there have been 56 verified attacks so far on health care in Sudan since the war began in April and about 70 percent to 80 percent of hospitals in conflict states are now out of service.

“We have completed our initial work, including testing of equipment, identification of the operational sites in Sudan and will hopefully be in a position to launch operations within the next four weeks,” EDUCAST founder and CEO Abdullah Butt told Arab News on Thursday.

“Right now, about 80 percent of health facilities have been destroyed in Sudan due to the war and the country is in dire need of medical facilities,” he added, saying his organization was approached by Sudanese authorities and its humanitarian commission seeking telemedicine services.

“This will be the first of its kind telehealth service to be provided by any Pakistani company in an active war region,” Butt said.

Under the agreement between EDUCAST and BFD, a network of mobile telehealth units will be set up in Sudan to provide universal coverage and access to safe and effective mother and child health and other emergency related services.

The telehealth education and clinical support facilities will be provided at five medical teaching hospitals in Sudan.

The project seeks to develop the medical capacity of up to 1,000 Sudanese doctors by delivering online training and certification programs. It will also facilitate them with in-person training courses at Pakistan’s teaching hospitals in key health areas, including maternal and neonatal child health, infectious and non-communicable diseases.

Through its eDoctor program, EDUCAST will support local medical practitioners through its network of over 1,200 eDoctors, with presence in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The project will focus on areas of Sudan devastated by war and where there is a large number of internally displaced persons and insufficient health capacity, Butt said.

Meer Behrose Regi, Pakistan’s envoy to Sudan, called for increased humanitarian efforts in Sudan.

“Everything is needed over there,” he told Arab News, “but the risk of security remains substantially high, though many companies are still operating there.”

Pakistan’s commerce minister to invite top 100 global brands in bid to boost exports

Pakistan’s commerce minister to invite top 100 global brands in bid to boost exports
Updated 23 September 2023

Pakistan’s commerce minister to invite top 100 global brands in bid to boost exports

Pakistan’s commerce minister to invite top 100 global brands in bid to boost exports
  • Dr. Gohar Ejaz announces state-guest protocol and free office space for invited international brand representatives
  • Government may allow local industrialists to purchase electricity directly from producers at competitive regional rates

KARACHI: Pakistan’s interim commerce minister Dr. Gohar Ejaz announced his decision on Friday to invite 100 top global brands to attend a conference with the aim of increasing exports from the country to $100 billion within the next five years.

Addressing the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the minister did not divulge when he was planning to hold the conference. However, he assured everyone it would take place within the tenure of the caretaker government.

“We are going to hold the conference within 90 days and approach the top 100 brands and request them to come to Pakistan as our state guest,” he said.

Ejaz said the government would provide these companies space to set up their offices free of cost and declare the area an “export zone” with complete protocol. He noted the country had more remittance inflows than export revenue, which was only limited to about $27 billion.

The minister said the government’s decision to launch a crackdown against the smugglers of dollars had led to the appreciation of the Pakistani rupee.

“The rupee that was trading at around Rs350 has come down to Rs290,” he said, adding that the real effective rate should be Rs260 and, according to inflation figures, it should be somewhere around Rs200.

Ejaz said the government had also decided to act against gas thieves since that raised the production costs of many industries.

“UFG [Unaccounted for Gas] is much higher than the benchmark,” he added. “Therefore, the cabinet has granted approval in principle for action against gas thieves, and a grand operation against them will be conducted by next week.”

The minister said the government imposed some import restrictions in the past to reduce pressure on the external account, but it had proved counterproductive.

“By imposing restrictions, imports were curtailed but smuggling from Afghanistan and Iran surged by $5 billion,” he informed.

The minister said it was not possible to offer subsidies to local industries, though an alternative proposal to provide them cheaper electricity was under consideration that would allow industrialists in Sindh and Punjab provinces to purchase power directly from producers at regionally competitive rates.

Responding to a question about the closure of markets earlier than usual, he said the deadline for that had been extended. The government had asked stakeholders to submit proposals along with hourly sales trends to make an informed decision on the matter.