Fiery Munro ensures Islamabad hammer Karachi by seven wickets in one-sided PSL contest

Special Fiery Munro ensures Islamabad hammer Karachi by seven wickets in one-sided PSL contest
Islamabad United’s Colin Munro (R) celebrates with Alex Hales (L) after making fifty runs during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) Twenty20 cricket match between Karachi Kings and Islamabad United at the National Cricket Stadium in Karachi on February 28, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 28 February 2024
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Fiery Munro ensures Islamabad hammer Karachi by seven wickets in one-sided PSL contest

Fiery Munro ensures Islamabad hammer Karachi by seven wickets in one-sided PSL contest
  • Islamabad United’s Colin Munro smashes 82 runs from 47 balls to win Player of the Match award
  • His opening partner Alex Hales scored 47 runs from 35 balls before Salman Ali Agha guided the team home

ISLAMABAD: Explosive Islamabad United batter Colin Munro on Wednesday smashed an 82-run knock from 47 balls to hand his team a thumping seven-wicket victory over the Karachi Kings at their home ground in the southern port city.
The two sides locked horns for the 15th match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) contest in Karachi. The Kings, led by skipper Shan Masood, were unable to impress in the first match of this year’s PSL hosted in Karachi. The Kings were able to score 165/5 from their 20 overs after being sent in to bat by United. 
Pakistani all-rounder Imad Wasim, a former Karachi Kings cricketer, Salman Ali Agha, Naseem Shah and Hunain Shah took a single wicket each to restrict the Kings to a modest total before Islamabad’s openers wreaked havoc on Karachi. 
“Back-to-back sixes by Salman Agha and WE HAVE WON!” United wrote on social media platform X, announcing the franchise’s victory. 
Munro and his opening partner Alex Hales smashed a 108-run partnership, leaving little doubt Islamabad would clinch the match. Hales was dismissed by Hasan Ali after scoring 47 runs from 35 balls, hitting four boundaries. Wasim fell to left-arm Karachi spinner Tabraiz Shamsi on the second ball, heading to the pavilion without scoring a single run. 
Munro was the third Islamabad wicket to fall when he was trapped leg-before-wicket by Mohammad Nawaz. His 82-run knock included eight fours and four sixes. 
United, who were placed at number five on the PSL points table, have gone up to the fourth spot ahead of the Kings with four points from five matches. Skipper Shadab Khan’s side will next take on the Quetta Gladiators on Saturday as it eyes climbing the PSL points table further. 
The Kings will now face a strong Gladiators squad, placed on number two at the PSL points table, on Thursday. Placed now on number five at the PSL points table, they have four points from two matches with a run rate of -0.527. 
The top four teams of the tournament will qualify for the playoffs.


Iranian president to arrive in Pakistan today for three-day visit 

Iranian president to arrive in Pakistan today for three-day visit 
Updated 22 sec ago
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Iranian president to arrive in Pakistan today for three-day visit 

Iranian president to arrive in Pakistan today for three-day visit 
  • Ebrahim Raisi to arrive in Islamabad with high-level delegation and “large” team of businesspersons, says foreign office
  • Raisi’s visit to Pakistan takes place amid surging Middle East tensions following Israel’s airstrikes against Iran last week 

ISLAMABAD: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will arrive in Islamabad today, Monday, for a three-day visit to Pakistan aimed at strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries amid surging tensions in the Middle East. 

The Iranian president will arrive in the federal capital with his spouse, a high-level delegation of cabinet members and a “large” team of businesspersons, Pakistan’s foreign office said in a statement on Sunday. 

Raisi’s visit takes place days after Iran and Israel exchanged drone and missile strikes, escalating tensions in the already volatile Middle East. 

“Iranian President Dr. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi is arriving in Islamabad today on a three-day official visit to Pakistan,” the state-run Radio Pakistan reported. 

During his visit from April 22-24, the Iranian head of state is scheduled to meet Pakistan’s prime minister, president, Senate chairman and National Assembly speaker, the foreign office said, adding that he would also visit Karachi and Lahore cities to meet the country’s provincial leadership. 

Raisi’s visit will be the first by any head of state to Pakistan after the contentious elections of February 2024. 

Pakistan and Iran are often at odds with each other over instability on their shared porous border, with both countries routinely trading blame for not rooting out militancy.

Tensions surged in January when Pakistan and Iran exchanged airstrikes, both claiming to target alleged militant hideouts in each other’s countries. Both sides have since then undertaken peace overtures and restored bilateral ties.

“The two sides will have a wide-ranging agenda to further strengthen Pakistan-Iran ties and enhance cooperation in diverse fields including trade, connectivity, energy, agriculture, and people-to-people contacts,” the foreign office said.

Discussions would also focus on regional and global developments as well as bilateral cooperation to combat “terrorism,” the statement added.

“Pakistan and Iran enjoy strong bilateral ties anchored in history, culture and religion,” the foreign office said. “This visit provides an important opportunity to further strengthen Pakistan-Iran relations.”


Saudi delegation inspects facilities at Karachi airport for Makkah Route initiative

Saudi delegation inspects facilities at Karachi airport for Makkah Route initiative
Updated 21 April 2024
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Saudi delegation inspects facilities at Karachi airport for Makkah Route initiative

Saudi delegation inspects facilities at Karachi airport for Makkah Route initiative
  • The initiative allows for the completion of immigration procedures at the pilgrims’ country of departure
  • More than 60% of Pakistani pilgrims on government program are likely to benefit from the initiative this year

KARACHI: A two-member delegation from Saudi Arabia on Sunday visited the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi to inspect facilities there for the Makkah Route initiative aimed at facilitating local Hajj pilgrims, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) said.
Launched in 2019, the initiative allows for the completion of immigration procedures at the pilgrims’ country of departure. This makes it possible to bypass long immigration and customs checks upon reaching Saudi Arabia, which significantly reduces the waiting time and makes the entry process smoother and faster.
Pakistani pilgrims performing Hajj under the government scheme have been availing this facility at the airport in Islamabad for the last couple of years. But the government wants the initiative to be extended to other cities as well.
The two-member delegation, which was accompanied by officials of the Saudi consulate, was warmly welcomed by PCAA officials upon arrival at the Karachi airport.
“The purpose of their visit was to inspect the airport’s facilities and discuss the arrangements for the Route to Makkah project,” the PCAA said in a statement. “During their visit, APM (airport manager) provided the delegation with a comprehensive tour of the airport’s facilities.”
The delegation showed particular interest in the entry process for intending pilgrims and the allocation of immigration space, according to the PCAA. Other key points discussed were related to the allocation of an immigration hall, and differentiating between government and private scheme pilgrims.
Pakistan’s religious affairs ministry last month announced completion of a survey for the Makkah Route initiative at the Karachi airport ahead of the Hajj season.
The South Asian country expects more than 60 percent of pilgrims performing Hajj this year to benefit from the initiative. People opting for the private Hajj scheme can also avail the facility, given the tour operators providing them services have contacted the Pakistani religious ministry for the purpose.
Saudi Arabia last year restored Pakistan’s pre-pandemic Hajj quota of 179,210 pilgrims and abolished the upper age limit of 65 years. More than 81,000 Pakistani pilgrims performed Hajj under the government scheme in 2023, while the rest used private tour operators.
This year’s pilgrimage is expected to run from June 14 till June 19.


Chapman-inspired New Zealand shock Pakistan in third T20I

Chapman-inspired New Zealand shock Pakistan in third T20I
Updated 21 April 2024
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Chapman-inspired New Zealand shock Pakistan in third T20I

Chapman-inspired New Zealand shock Pakistan in third T20I
  • The 29-year-old left hander smashed a 42-ball 87 to anchor New Zealand’s chase of 179-run target in 18.2 overs
  • Shadab Khan (41) and Babar Azam (37) were main contributors in Pakistan’s 178-4 after the hosts were sent in to bat

RAWALPINDI: Mark Chapman hit a robust half century to help an under-strength New Zealand to a shock seven-wicket victory over Pakistan in the third Twenty20 international in Rawalpindi on Sunday.
The 29-year-old left hander smashed a 42-ball 87 to anchor New Zealand’s chase of 179-run target in 18.2 overs against the much vaunted Pakistan bowling attack, silencing a packed 16,000 holiday crowd.
Shadab Khan (41) and Babar Azam (37) were the main contributors in Pakistan’s 178-4 after the hosts were sent in to bat by New Zealand.
Tim Robinson hit 28 off 19 balls and Tim Seifert 21 off 16 to set the tone for New Zealand’s chase.
New Zealand were strongly-placed at 53-2 in the sixth over before Chapman and Dean Foxcroft (31) took over, adding a solid 117-run in a third wicket partnership to square the five-match series at 1-1.
Pakistan won the second game by seven wickets while the first match was washed out after just two balls — both were also in Rawalpindi.
Chapman, whose only T20I hundred came at the same venue last year, clobbered four sixes and nine fours in his eighth half century in the format. He was ably supported by Foxcroft.
Pakistan skipper Azam brought spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi on in the 15th over with 61 to defend, but Chapman cracked two fours. He then smashed two sixes and two more fours off Naseem Shah’s next over to bring the target down to 21 of 24 balls.
Fast bowler Abbas Afridi, 2-27, dismissed Foxcroft, but by then New Zealand were just nine away from victory. Chapman and Jimmy Neesham (six not out) reached the target with ten balls to spare.
Earlier Shadab hit two sixes and four fours while Azam hit four fours and a six.
Opener Saim Ayub scored a 22-ball 32 and Muhammad Irfan Khan chipped in with a 20-ball 30 not out as Pakistan added 54 in the last five overs.
Azam and left-hander Ayub gave Pakistan a brisk start of 55 as the duo played some aggressive shots.
Shadab and Irfan boosted the innings with a brisk 62-run stand for the fourth wicket.
For New Zealand, leg-spinner Ish Sodhi was the best bowler with 2-25.
The final two matches are in Lahore on April 25 and 27.
Both teams are preparing for June’s Twenty20 World Cup in the United States and the West Indies.


Pakistanis organize hike to demand ‘concrete steps’ for ceasefire in Gaza, aid delivery

Pakistanis organize hike to demand ‘concrete steps’ for ceasefire in Gaza, aid delivery
Updated 21 April 2024
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Pakistanis organize hike to demand ‘concrete steps’ for ceasefire in Gaza, aid delivery

Pakistanis organize hike to demand ‘concrete steps’ for ceasefire in Gaza, aid delivery
  • The event, organized by Save Gaza Campaign, was attended by politicians, civil society members, journalists and students
  • Organizers demand Pakistan demarche US envoy for supporting Israel in committing ‘war crimes’ against innocent Palestinians

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: Pakistanis on Sunday organized a hike in the federal capital of Islamabad to reiterate their demands for the government to take “concrete steps” to pressure Israel for a ceasefire in Gaza and the establishment of a humanitarian assistance corridor to the war-torn territory.

The development came as the Palestinian health ministry said at least 34,097 people had been killed during more than six months of Israel’s war on Gaza. Another 76,980 people had been wounded in the Gaza Strip since the war began when Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7.

The hike at Islamabad’s Trail 3 was organized by the Save Gaza Campaign, a civil society movement that advocates for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, and attended by a large number of Pakistanis, including politicians, civil society members, journalists and students.

“Today, we have organized this hike through which we want to give this message that we will talk about Gaza,” Humaira Tayyaba, one of the organizers of the event, told Arab News.

“We are hiking to raise awareness about the real issue and to what extent we can go for this issue, so they [Pakistani youth] can know of it through this informal way.”

The organizers said their protests had been entirely peaceful and had drawn the attention of Pakistanis across the country.

“Our campaign, Save Gaza, started on 13th November and we have been continuously organizing peaceful protests,” Tayyaba said. “Our campaign is moving forward with more Pakistani people joining and emotionally connecting with Palestine.”

Mushtaq Ahmed, a former Pakistani senator, speaks ahead of the Save Gaza campaign walk through Margalla Hills trail in Islamabad on April 21, 2024, to demand a "ceasefire" in the Gaza Strip. (AN Photo)

Mushtaq Ahmed, a former Pakistani senator, demanded the Pakistani government raise the issue of Israel’s alleged war crimes against the Palestinians in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

“We also demand the government of Pakistan demarche the American ambassador in Pakistan because recently the Americans announced that they are giving $17 billion aid to Israel, which will be used for aircraft, missile technology, tanks and ammunition to kill the innocent Palestinians,” he told Arab News.

Maryam Nazir, media director of the Save Gaza Campaign, said their primary demand was an immediate ceasefire in the besieged territory.

“South Africa is in the International Court of Justice at the Hague for a ceasefire. At least, [Pakistan] should submit a declaration [in the ICJ] of intervention against Israel,” she told Arab News.

Nazir said their efforts would continue and the Pakistani government would have to respond to their demands.

Pakistan does not recognize the state of Israel and maintains its support for an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, based on pre-1967 borders.

The South Asian country has repeatedly raised the issue of Israel’s war on Gaza at the United Nations through its permanent representative, Ambassador Munir Akram.

Children hold posters, saying "Free Palestine," as Mushtaq Ahmed, a former Pakistani senator, speaks ahead of the Save Gaza campaign walk through Margalla Hills trail in Islamabad on April 21, 2024, to demand a "ceasefire" in the Gaza Strip. (AN Photo)

‘Martyrs of Gaza Conference’

In the southern Pakistani city of Karachi, hundreds of people attended a rally, titled ‘Martyrs of Gaza Conference,’ on Sunday to urge the international community to halt Israeli strikes against the Palestinians. The conference was organized by the Pakistan Markazi Muslim League (PMML) party.

“Two hundred days have passed since the Israeli bombardment began in Gaza, while the entire world has become a silent spectator. I urge them to stop Israel from committing genocide against Palestinians,” said Nadeem Awan, the PMML Karachi general secretary.

“We believe that Pakistan, along with other Muslim states, can play a crucial role in raising the voice for Palestine.”

Isaar Babar, a 27-year-old teacher, said he participated in the rally to let the Palestinians know that Pakistanis stood by them.

“As you know, injustice prevails, and we are here to express solidarity with the people of Palestine, so that our brothers and sisters may know that their Pakistani counterparts stand with them,” he said.

Shaista Noor, another attendee, said Pakistanis couldn’t go to Palestine, but they could support Palestinians by boycotting Israeli products and companies that supported the Jewish state.

“We can boycott Israeli products. We can boycott products that help Israel in one way or another,” she added.


Pakistan finance minister expresses hope of larger IMF program amid Washington meetings

Pakistan finance minister expresses hope of larger IMF program amid Washington meetings
Updated 22 April 2024
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Pakistan finance minister expresses hope of larger IMF program amid Washington meetings

Pakistan finance minister expresses hope of larger IMF program amid Washington meetings
  • Pakistan’s finance minister is in Washington to attend spring meetings by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank
  • The visit comes days before expiry of Pakistan’s current $3 billion program, which helped it avert a default last year

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s finance minister, Muhammad Aurangzeb, on Saturday expressed hope about his country securing a larger bailout program from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pakistani state media reported, amid Aurangzeb’s meetings with officials of global financial institutions in Washington.
Aurangzeb has been in Washington since last week to participate in spring meetings organized by the IMF and World Bank. His tour is an important one for the South Asian country as Pakistan’s ongoing nine-month, $3 billion loan program with the IMF expires this month.
Speaking to journalists and think-tank officials, the finance minister said Pakistan was requesting a “larger and longer” multi-billion-dollar loan program from the IMF and discussions were underway with the Fund’s officials, the state-run APP news agency reported.
“Once the mission is back in Islamabad, we are going to agree on the priorities and the principles,” he was quoted as saying.
“We have our own views and we’ll share it with IMF. But I would rather leave it to the joint meetings in terms of the size and the duration of the program.”
Pakistan signed the $3 billion agreement with the IMF in June 2023, which helped the South Asian country avoid a default. The country is believed to have requested the IMF for another $8 billion bailout program.
The finance minister’s visit to the US also comes at a time when the IMF has published its updated World Economic Outlook, projecting Pakistan’s growth at 2 percent. The Fund has kept the country’s expected growth rate at 3.5 percent for the next fiscal year.
Separately, Aurangzeb met with representatives of rating agencies, S&P Global and Fitch Ratings, and addressed their concerns on the external side, inflation, primary balance and interest rate regime.
“The minister shared an update on the positive indicators of the country on the back of Standby Arrangement (SBA) signed with IMF,” the APP reported. “He highlighted ongoing reforms in the priority areas of taxation, energy and privatization over the short, medium and long-term horizon.”
Aurangzeb referred to his meetings with officials of multilateral institutions and reaffirmed that the World Bank agenda of climate change, digitalization and human development aligned with priorities of the Pakistani government. He also mentioned potential Saudi investments in Pakistan.