Pakistan Super League ignites with grand opening, setting stage for Qalandars vs United clash

Pakistan Super League ignites with grand opening, setting stage for Qalandars vs United clash
This photograph shows fireworks over the stadium during the opening ceremony of the 9th edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL) Twenty20 cricket with the first match between Lahore Qalandars and Islamabad United at the Gaddafi Cricket Stadium in Lahore on February 17, 2024. (Photo courtesy: PCB)
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Updated 17 February 2024
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Pakistan Super League ignites with grand opening, setting stage for Qalandars vs United clash

Pakistan Super League ignites with grand opening, setting stage for Qalandars vs United clash
  • The stadium was packed to capacity ahead of a dazzling laser show and singing performance by Ali Zafar, Aima Baig
  • Islamabad United won the toss following the lavish opening ceremony and invited Lahore Qalandars to bat first

ISLAMABAD: The 9th edition of HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) Twenty20 cricket tournament kicked off with a star-studded ceremony at Lahore’s Qaddafi Stadium shortly before defending champions Lahore Qalandars took on two-time title winners Islamabad United on Saturday evening.

The stadium was packed to capacity ahead of the dazzling laser show that marked the beginning of the championship that will unfold in four cities – Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi – which will host 34 matches.
Singers Ali Zafar and Aima Baig performed the PSL 9 anthem before Islamabad United won the toss and chose to bowl.
In a statement shared by the PCB a day earlier, captain of Lahore Qalandars Shaheen Shah Afridi said he was excited to be leading the team again.

“I am genuinely excited to be leading Lahore Qalandars for the third consecutive season in HBL PSL and the hunt for a hat-trick of titles makes me eager to do well,” he said. “We are eying a third HBL PSL win this time and I can assure you that my team will show the same intensity as we have done in the past two seasons.”
Skipper of Islamabad United, Shadab Khan, on the other hand applauded his balanced squad.
“I have been captain of Islamabad United for the last four seasons and I want to lift the trophy for my team this season,” he said. “The additions of Imad Wasim and the Shah brothers are a huge boost for the franchise. Faheem Ashraf and Azam Khan are two vital cogs in our team. I want my team to stand tall in high-pressure games and get over the line. We have evaluated our mistakes from the last season and are looking forward to executing our plans aptly this time around.”
The PSL officially began in February 2016. It is a significant cricket league in Pakistan, featuring city-based franchise teams.
The PSL is a major event in Pakistan’s cricket calendar, symbolizing the country’s love for the sport, and brings together both local and international talent.
It has grown substantially in value and popularity since its inception, contributing to the global cricket landscape.


Suspected militants burn girls’ school in northwest Pakistan in third such attack this month

Suspected militants burn girls’ school in northwest Pakistan in third such attack this month
Updated 29 May 2024
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Suspected militants burn girls’ school in northwest Pakistan in third such attack this month

Suspected militants burn girls’ school in northwest Pakistan in third such attack this month
  • Kerosine used to set fire to a girls’ school in North Waziristan district
  • Suspects destroyed furniture, computers and books in latest attack

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: A group of militants used kerosine to set fire to a girls’ school in a former Pakistani Taliban stronghold, destroying furniture, computers and books, police said Wednesday, in the latest in a surge in such attacks.
No one was hurt in the overnight attack in North Waziristan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, local police official Rehmat Ullah said. Two other girls’ schools in the region were bombed earlier this month.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but authorities suspect Islamic militants, who targeted girls’ schools years ago, saying that women should not be educated.
North Waziristan is a former stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban, who are also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. It is a separate group but a close ally of the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in neighboring Afghanistan in 2021. The Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan has emboldened the Pakistani Taliban.


Cop shot dead by suspected militants in northwest Pakistan amid wave of police killings

Cop shot dead by suspected militants in northwest Pakistan amid wave of police killings
Updated 29 May 2024
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Cop shot dead by suspected militants in northwest Pakistan amid wave of police killings

Cop shot dead by suspected militants in northwest Pakistan amid wave of police killings
  • Peshawar police say 55 officers killed in ambushes and targeted attacks this year
  • Over 200 policemen killed in targeted killings and ambushes in the last two years

PESHAWAR: Unidentified gunmen on a motorbike shot dead a police officer headed to duty in the northwestern city of Peshawar early morning on Wednesday, police said, bringing the total number of officers killed in ambushes and targeted attacks to 55 this year.
The latest killings come at a time of renewed militant violence in Pakistan’s northwestern and southwestern regions, especially after the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) called off its fragile, months-long truce with the government in November 2022.
While no group immediately claimed responsibility for the latest killing, suspicion is likely to fall on the TTP, which has claimed dozens of recent attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in the country’s militancy-ridden northwest.
“An Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Hajji Akbar Khan of Peshawar police was going on his motorcycle to duty in HayatAbad [neighborhood] when gunmen riding a motorbike shot him dead and fled the scene,” Zaffar Khan, a police officer at the Sarband Police Station, told Arab News.
The killing is part of a wave of attacks on policemen in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in recent weeks.
According to Muhammad Shabbir Khan, the police superintendent at the research wing of Peshawar police, over 200 policemen have been killed in targeted killings and ambushes by unidentified gunmen in the last two years.
“In 2024, almost 55 police personnel have been martyred in targeted killings so far,” Khan said.
“Similarly, last year, as many as 185 policemen were martyred in ambushes and targeted attacks elsewhere in KP.”
Last month, unidentified gunmen shot dead a policeman in the restive North Waziristan tribal district, while six people, including five officials of the customs department, were killed and another wounded when gunmen opened fire on their vehicle in the southern Dera Ismail Khan district in KP.
Both Pakistan and Afghanistan have traded blame in recent months over who is responsible for the recent spate of militant attacks in Pakistan. 
Islamabad says the attacks are launched mostly by TTP members who operate from safe havens in Afghanistan. Kabul denies this and blames Islamabad for not being able to handle its own security challenges.


Over 16,000 Pakistani pilgrims opt for government’s new shorter duration Hajj package 

Over 16,000 Pakistani pilgrims opt for government’s new shorter duration Hajj package 
Updated 29 May 2024
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Over 16,000 Pakistani pilgrims opt for government’s new shorter duration Hajj package 

Over 16,000 Pakistani pilgrims opt for government’s new shorter duration Hajj package 
  • Government Hajj scheme previously ran for 38-42 days, now shorter deal of up to 30 days also available
  • Pakistan’s Hajj 2024 quota is 179,210 pilgrims of which 63,805 pilgrims will use the government scheme

ISLAMABAD: More than 16,000 pilgrims have chosen the government’s new short duration Hajj package, state-run media said on Wednesday, an option that allows believers to complete the journey in up to 30 days.
Previously, the government Hajj scheme ran for 38-42 days, but a shorter package of 25-30 days has been made available for the first time this year. 
Hajj 2024 is expected to take place from June 14-19, coinciding with the peak of sweltering summer temperatures in the region and raising concerns about the well-being of millions of pilgrims gathering in Makkah from around the world.
“Over 16,000 intending pilgrims have chosen a short Hajj package introduced by the government this year,” state-run Radio Pakistan said, quoting Director General Hajj Abdul Wahab Soomro. “The package is a gift for the busy people who intend to perform Hajj in a short duration.”
Soomro said numerous steps were being taken to facilitate pilgrims during their stay in Saudi Arabia, with space for pilgrims acquired timely in Mina and a train service made available to transport them to Mashayer.
Pakistan has a Hajj quota of 179,210 pilgrims this year. Of them, 63,805 pilgrims will be performing the pilgrimage under the government scheme, while the rest will be accommodated by private tour operators, according to the Pakistani religious affairs ministry.
Around 40,000 Pakistani Hajj pilgrims have so far arrived in Madinah and Makkah through 164 flights under the government scheme. The number of pilgrims who arrived under the private scheme stands at 5,500. 
As many as 114 flights will be transporting another 34,422 Pakistanis to Jeddah till June 9.
This year, Pakistan is also due to send 550 Hajj assistants and 400 doctors and paramedical staff to Saudi Arabia to ensure that the pilgrimage process, including food, transportation and accommodation, is managed efficiently.


Human Rights Watch urges Pakistan to reform land laws amid eviction drives targeting urban poor

Human Rights Watch urges Pakistan to reform land laws amid eviction drives targeting urban poor
Updated 29 May 2024
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Human Rights Watch urges Pakistan to reform land laws amid eviction drives targeting urban poor

Human Rights Watch urges Pakistan to reform land laws amid eviction drives targeting urban poor
  • Watchdog says authorities should ensure no one made homeless, compensate loss of land, provide resettlement
  • Officials have said in the past they are only working to remove structures that “encroach” on public lands, state property

ISLAMABAD: Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged Pakistan this week to reform its colonial-era land laws which the watchdog said were being used to forcibly evict low-income residents, shop owners, and street vendors to make room for public and private development projects.
The latest HRW report titled “I Escaped With Only My Life: Abusive Forced Evictions in Pakistan” details alleged widespread and abusive forced evictions that the rights body said disproportionately affected the most economically and socially marginalized communities in Pakistan. Authorities had evicted thousands of people without adequate consultation, notice, compensation, resettlement assistance, or means of redress in violation of their basic rights, the document said. 
Forced eviction is defined as “the permanent or temporary removal against their will and without the provision of, and access to, appropriate forms of legal or other protection.”
“The Pakistani government urgently needs to reform its colonial-era land laws so that they are equitable, transparent, and in line with Pakistan’s international obligations,” HRW Senior Counsel Saroop Ijaz said.
“The authorities should ensure that no one is made homeless due to eviction, compensate the loss of land, and provide for the resettlement of those displaced.”
The government and police have not yet commented on HRW’s latest report, but officials have said in the past they were only removing structures that “encroached” on public lands or state property, which they deem both necessary and justified. Encroachment is a crime under several provincial and regional laws, and those convicted face fines or even prison sentences.
In its report, HRW interviewed at least 36 victims of forced evictions in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi who alleged that police used excessive force to remove tenants and, in some cases, also made illegal arrests. Interviewees also said there was “little consistency and less rationale” for evictions on the pretext of anti-encroachment drives. Victims said police were arresting and prosecuting those who resisted evictions, while corruption in land acquisition, and poor land registration mechanisms made it impossible for them to prove ownership of their land.
“Many of those evicted, in addition to losing their homes, frequently lose their livelihoods and access to essential public services, such as schools and health care,” the report said. “These practices worsen social and economic inequalities, disproportionately burdening people and households with low incomes, and who often are ethnic minorities.”
Pakistan’s colonial-era Land Acquisition Act (LAA) 1894 provides the template for public land acquisition in the country more than a century after its enactment. 
“The law and others based on it give the government almost exclusive authority to decide what falls within its scope and to displace people with minimum procedural safeguards that are contrary to international human rights law and standards,” the report added.


Karachi braces for heat wave today amid sizzling weather across Pakistan

Karachi braces for heat wave today amid sizzling weather across Pakistan
Updated 25 min 36 sec ago
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Karachi braces for heat wave today amid sizzling weather across Pakistan

Karachi braces for heat wave today amid sizzling weather across Pakistan
  • The country’s chief meteorologist predicts temperature in the port city to hit 45°C for the next three days
  • Pakistan is in the grips of an intense heat wave since last week, with temperatures soaring past 52°C in Sindh

KARACHI: Pakistan’s southern Karachi port city will start experiencing heat wave today that is likely to persist until the end of the week, said the country’s chief meteorologist on Wednesday, as different cities have already been enduring sizzling weather, with upper portion of Sindh province recording temperatures exceeding 52° Celsius.
Earlier this month, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) of Pakistan issued a warning regarding soaring temperatures in certain areas of Sindh and eastern Punjab province, saying they were expected to surge to 40°C between May 15 and 30.
“The temperature will rise up to 45 degrees Celsius,” said Sardar Sarfraz, chief meteorologist, adding that since the situation would persist until June 1 and not for five consecutive days, it would technically be considered a partial heat wave.
Sarfraz noted that the weather in other parts of Sindh had been very hot, with Mohenjo Daro almost reaching a point where it could break its own record of 53.5°C on May 27, 2010.
“Mohenjo Daro’s temperature reached 52.5 degrees Celsius, the third highest for the country,” he said.
In Pakistan, Sarfraz mentioned that the highest temperature was recorded at 54°C in Turbat in 2017, making it the country’s highest and the fourth highest in the world.
Speaking to Arab News, Jawed Memon, a weather expert, said Karachi had already experienced “feels-like” heat wave for the past seven to nine days. However, he said the situation was likely to remain bearable in the next few days.
“Due to these dry and dusty winds, significant drop in humidity levels is expected, specifically from tonight and the feels-like temperatures won’t be so high,” he said
Climate change exacerbates heat waves in Pakistan, with extreme temperatures becoming more frequent.
The country, among the top ten most vulnerable to climate impacts, also faces untimely downpours, floods and droughts.
These heat waves lead to various illnesses, contributing to significant economic losses and weather-related deaths in summer season.
In 2015, Karachi witnessed a deadly heat wave, claiming more 2,000 lives, while devastating floods in 2022 killed around 1,700 people and affected over 33 million across the country, necessitating extensive rebuilding efforts.