Pakistan decides to promote ‘quality’ domestic cricket after dismal World Cup performance

Pakistan decides to promote ‘quality’ domestic cricket after dismal World Cup performance
A supporter of Pakistan reacts to their loss to India at the Oculus in Lower Manhattan after watching the ICC men's Twenty20 World Cup 2024 group A cricket match between India and Pakistan, in New York City on June 9, 2024. (AFP/File)
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Updated 24 June 2024
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Pakistan decides to promote ‘quality’ domestic cricket after dismal World Cup performance

Pakistan decides to promote ‘quality’ domestic cricket after dismal World Cup performance
  • PCB chief Mohsin Naqvi says players will be selected only on basis of fitness, performance in domestic league
  • Says board will organize local tournaments regularly, appoint “master coach” to train coaches at domestic level

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Mohsin Naqvi on Monday discussed strengthening Pakistan’s domestic cricket structure in the country after the green shirts failed to make it to the second round of the ongoing T20 World Cup 2024. 

Pakistan’s disappointing performance in the T20 World Cup, which saw them lose to minnows USA and arch-rivals India, triggered discussions about the state of domestic cricket in the country. Cricket experts and commentators have raised questions about domestic cricket in Pakistan, pointing out the lackluster pitches in the country and accusing selectors of deliberately ignoring cricketers who fail to perform in domestic cricket. 

They have also pointed out frequent changes in the cricket board and its coaches, selectors and captains, and alleged divisions within the national squad as reasons for Pakistan’s hapless performance in the megaevent. 

Naqvi chaired a three-hour-long meeting at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Lahore with senior board officials on Monday. Discussions revolved around strengthening domestic cricket in the country and the role of coaches in grooming young talent in the country, the PCB said in a statement. 

“Quality domestic cricket will be promoted at every level,” Naqvi was quoted by the PCB. “We will hold tournaments consistently from the club level to the national level.”

The PCB chairman said a “master coach” would be appointed to train coaches at the domestic level to groom young talent into future stars. 

“Players will have to participate in domestic cricket to be selected for the national team,” Naqvi said. “Players will be selected only on the basis of performance and merit.”

Naqvi told board officials that work needs to be done on an “emergency basis” to promote new talent in the country, adding that investing in young talent would promote cricket at the lower level, which would produce “positive” results. 

PCB officials also examined the structure of domestic cricket in India, New Zealand, Australia and England during the meeting, the board said. 

Pakistan captain Babar Azam had stepped down as captain of all three formats after Pakistan failed to make the knockout stage of the 50-overs World Cup in India last year. However, he was reinstated as white-ball skipper ahead of the 20-overs showpiece in the US and West Indies.

Questions surrounding Azam’s captaincy have once again surfaced following Pakistan’s dismal performance in the World Cup. The Pakistani captain has said he would let the PCB take the ultimate decision about his captaincy. 

“When I go back, we will discuss all that has happened here. And if I have to leave the captaincy, I will announce it openly,” he had said in a press conference earlier this month. “I will not hide behind anything. Whatever happens will happen in the open. But for now, I have not thought about it. It is eventually PCB’s decision.”


Turkmenistan foreign minister in Islamabad today as Pakistan woos land-locked Central Asian republics

Turkmenistan foreign minister in Islamabad today as Pakistan woos land-locked Central Asian republics
Updated 32 min 14 sec ago
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Turkmenistan foreign minister in Islamabad today as Pakistan woos land-locked Central Asian republics

Turkmenistan foreign minister in Islamabad today as Pakistan woos land-locked Central Asian republics
  • Leaders from Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan visited Pakistan in recent months for talks on investment and economic opportunities
  • Pakistan hopes to enhance role as pivotal trade and transit hub connecting landlocked Central Asian states with world

ISLAMABAD: Turkmenistan Foreign Minister Rasit Meredow will hold talks with Pakistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar today, Tuesday, state broadcaster Radio Pakistan reported as Islamabad seeks to boost trade with Central Asian states to stabilize its economy.

Meredow arrived in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad on Monday for a two-day official visit to the country in hopes of boosting trade, investment and bilateral relations between both nations. Pakistan hopes to leverage its strategic geopolitical position and enhance its role as a pivotal trade and transit hub connecting the landlocked Central Asian republics with the rest of the world.

In recent months, there has been a flurry of visits, investment talks and economic activity between Pakistan and Central Asian states, including meetings with leaders from Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.

“Foreign Minister Rasit Meredov will hold extensive talks with the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar and call on the Pakistani leadership,” Radio Pakistan said. 

“Talks between the two sides will cover all aspects of bilateral relations. They will also exchange views on regional and global developments.”

The Turkmenistan foreign minister will also address a joint press stakeout with Dar after their meeting. Meredow is also expected to meet Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif later. 

Located in a landlocked but resource-rich region, Central Asian countries need better access to regional markets including Pakistan, China, India, and the countries of West Asia.

Islamabad is seeking to bolster trade and investment relations with allies to stabilize its fragile $350 billion economy as it faces an acute balance of payment crisis amid soaring inflation and surging external debt.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, under which Beijing has pledged around $65 billion in energy, infrastructure, and other projects in Pakistan, also presents a strategic opportunity for Central Asian states to transport their goods more easily to regional and global markets. 


Pakistan delays national airline’s auction till September as bidders seek more information— report 

Pakistan delays national airline’s auction till September as bidders seek more information— report 
Updated 23 July 2024
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Pakistan delays national airline’s auction till September as bidders seek more information— report 

Pakistan delays national airline’s auction till September as bidders seek more information— report 
  • Bidders are waiting for airline’s latest audited accounts, clarity on flights to Europe that are banned, says Bloomberg 
  • Pakistan is looking to sell 51 percent to 100 percent of the carrier, which has failed to report an annual profit for nearly two decades

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s government has delayed the final auction for its national airline until the end of September, international business publication Bloomberg reported this week, as potential bidders seek more information to assess the carrier. 

Islamabad plans to sell the Pakistan International Airline (PIA) and outsource three of its airports in its attempts to curtail losses and enhance its foreign exchange reserves at a time when the country’s fragile $350 billion economy faces a balance of payment crisis.

The privatization of the loss-making state-owned enterprise has long been on the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) list of recommendations for Pakistan, with which it signed a $7 billion loan agreement this month. Pakistan’s government said in July it expected to announce the auction date within 10 days. 

“Pakistan has delayed the final auction for state-owned Pakistan International Airlines by two months until the end of September after potential bidders sought more information to assess the carrier, according to people familiar with the matter,” Bloomberg reported on Monday. 

Quoting anonymous sources familiar with the matter, Bloomberg said the bidders are waiting for the airline’s latest audited accounts, clarity on flights to Europe that are banned and aircraft lease agreements. 

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) banned PIA from its most lucrative routes in Europe and Britain after a PIA plane crash in Karachi in 2020 killed nearly 100, followed by a scandal over pilot licenses. The ban continues, costing the airline annual revenue of nearly 40 billion rupees ($143.73 million), the government has told parliament.

Pakistan is looking to sell 51 percent to 100 percent of the carrier, which has failed to report an annual profit for nearly two decades. In June, Pakistan selected six bidders to bid for the airline, which includes a consortium led by the Yunus Brothers Group., one of the nation’s largest business conglomerates, and another by businessman Arif Habib. 

A popular airline during its heydays in the ‘60s and ‘70s, PIA has grappled with financial losses, mismanagement, and operational challenges in recent years. It has also been burdened by a high debt load, inefficiencies, and corruption allegations, resulting in an overall decline in its financial performance.

Previous Pakistani governments avoided disposing the flag carrier as a potentially highly unpopular move. However, Pakistan’s recent macroeconomic crisis and its desperate need to secure another financial assistance package from the IMF has forced the government to go ahead with the auction. 


Pakistan’s disaster management authority warns of ‘high-level’ flooding in Sialkot, Narowal cities

Pakistan’s disaster management authority warns of ‘high-level’ flooding in Sialkot, Narowal cities
Updated 23 July 2024
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Pakistan’s disaster management authority warns of ‘high-level’ flooding in Sialkot, Narowal cities

Pakistan’s disaster management authority warns of ‘high-level’ flooding in Sialkot, Narowal cities
  • Jammu region may receive “heavy to very heavy rainfall” over next three days, says authority 
  • Heavy monsoon rains have killed at least 24, injured 80 this month in Punjab province

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has warned that the Pakistani cities of Narowal and Sialkot may suffer “high-level” flash flooding this week triggered by heavy monsoon rains, urging authorities to take action to mitigate the possible effects of the calamity. 

Heavy monsoon rains have lashed several cities of Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, this month. At least 24 people were reportedly killed and 80 others injured this month in rain-related incidents across the province. 

In a press release on Monday, the NDMA’s National Emergencies Operation Center said it anticipates “heavy to very heavy rainfall” in the Jammu region over the next three days. 

“As a result, local nullahs in Narowal and Sialkot, including Nullah Aik, Daik, and Palkhu, may become inundated, potentially leading to flash flooding,” the disaster management authority said in a statement. 

“NDMA has issued instructions to all relevant departments to take necessary precautions to mitigate the possible effects of flooding and extreme weather.”

The authority warned that flash floods can catch people off guard, advising populations at risk to avoid floodwaters and find a safe location away from dangerous areas. 

“Even a mere six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet, and just one foot of moving water can sweep away a vehicle,” it warned. “Bridges can be hazardous during floods. Avoid crossing them if water is flowing rapidly.”

The authority said it has launched the “Pak NDMA Disaster Alert” mobile application, available on Google Play Store and iOS App Store, to provide timely alerts, adviseries, and guidelines to the public. 

Pakistan is recognized as one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change effects in the world. Unusually heavy rains in June 2022 triggered flash floods in many parts of the country, killing over 1,700 people, inflicting losses of around $30 billion, and affecting over 33 million people. 
 


Former beggarwomen mold new lives through tilemaking in Pakistan’s Sindh

Former beggarwomen mold new lives through tilemaking in Pakistan’s Sindh
Updated 23 July 2024
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Former beggarwomen mold new lives through tilemaking in Pakistan’s Sindh

Former beggarwomen mold new lives through tilemaking in Pakistan’s Sindh
  • Dozens of women who used to beg at sprawling Makli necropolis have learnt art of kashi tilemaking 
  • Women say money earned helps them bear household expenses, buy livestock, educate children

MAKLI, Thatta: Hoor Noor used her hands to shape the clay into a tile under the shade of a bamboo structure as the harsh sun shone down around her on the sprawling Makli Necropolis, among the largest cemeteries in the world.

Until a few years ago, Noor used to be among dozens of women beggars at the cemetery located near the city of Thatta in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province. In 2018, celebrated Pakistani architect Yasmeen Lari decided to help beggarwomen earn a dignified living and launched a program to teach them how to make kashi tiles, one of the oldest handicrafts in Sindh.

“Life used to be worthless before,” Noor, 55, who lives in the nearby Shikari village where the training facility was set up, told Arab News as she extracted a tile from a wooden mold. “Now even the children eat and drink well. Now, our life is good.”

Women make tiles in Makli in Pakistan's southern Sindh province on July 20, 2024. (AN photo)

Makli has over half a million tombs and graves spread over an area of about 10 square kilometers. Among those buried are kings, queens, governors, saints, scholars, and philosophers, many of them lying in brick or stone monuments lavishly decorated with glazed tiles.

Now Noor takes the tiles she makes with her own hands to sell at the same shrines where she once used to beg for alms.

“She started to sell those Kashi tiles and suddenly she started to make money,” Lari told Arab News. “Once she started to make money, it was a changed scenario.”

Celebrated Pakistani architect Yasmeen Lari is working at her office in Karachi, Pakistan on July 20, 2024. (AN photo)

Noor’s story has inspired other women and Lari’s training program has been attended by around 230 beggars, most of them women, since it was launched. 

Tiles produced in the program have been used in several heritage places in Karachi, including the Denso Hall library and the historic Kharadar Chowk. In their latest project, the women are making tiles for a heritage street near the Pakistan State Oil House in Karachi’s upscale Clifton area. Ultimately, Lari’s goal is to train women from up to 15,000 Sindh villages in the craft of traditional kashi tilemaking. 

Indeed, as more streets and heritage structures are restored in Karachi, Lari said more women in Makli would find an honest day’s work.

“The more people will use it [kashi tiles] in the cities, the more these women will be able to be trained,” the architect said. 

Women make tiles in Makli in Pakistan's southern Sindh province on July 20, 2024. (AN photo)

Those trained in the craft have already witnessed a dramatic improvement in their lives, with some earning as much as Rs20,000 [$71.98] per month, Lari said. 

“After the household expenses, if money is left, we [also] buy small goats,” Hoor said as she wedged clay in her hands. 

Another craftswoman and mother of five, Samia Qadir, said she was glad her children were now able to go to school.

“My daughter gets to go to school,” Qadir told Arab News. “If I’d had the opportunity, I would have gone too …But I work, I make tiles, I am happy, and our children are also happy.”


Pakistan says killed three militants infiltrating its border with Afghanistan

Pakistan says killed three militants infiltrating its border with Afghanistan
Updated 23 July 2024
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Pakistan says killed three militants infiltrating its border with Afghanistan

Pakistan says killed three militants infiltrating its border with Afghanistan
  • The militants attempted to infiltrate the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in the Dir district, Pakistani military says
  • Pakistan blames a recent surge in attacks on militants operating out of Afghanistan, Kabul denies the allegation

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s army said on Monday it had killed three militants who were infiltrating the country’s border with Afghanistan in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province.

The militants attempted to infiltrate the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in KP’s Dir district, according to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the military’s media wing.

Pakistani forces surrounded and effectively engaged the infiltrators, and all three of them were killed after an intense exchange of fire.

“Pakistan has consistently been asking Interim Afghan Government to ensure effective border management on their side of the border,” the ISPR noted.

“Security forces of Pakistan are determined and remain committed to securing its borders and eliminating the menace of terrorism from the country.”

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which borders Afghanistan, has seen a surge in attacks on security forces, government officials and anti-polio vaccination teams in recent weeks. Attacks have also spiked in the southwestern Balochistan province, home to a decades-long insurgency by separatist fighters.

In a major attack in KP’s Bannu, ten soldiers were killed last week when militants launched a coordinated attack on a military cantonment on July 15.

Islamabad blames the recent surge in attacks, including the attack on the army cantonment in Bannu, on militants, mainly from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), operating out of neighboring Afghanistan. Kabul denies the allegations and says rising violence in Pakistan is a domestic issue for Islamabad.

Pakistani forces were able to effectively dismantle the TTP in a string of military operations in KP’s tribal districts from 2014 onwards, driving most of the fighters into neighboring Afghanistan, where Islamabad says they have regrouped.

Islamabad says TTP leaders have taken refuge in Afghanistan and now run camps there to train insurgents to launch attacks inside Pakistan. The Afghan Taliban rulers say Kabul does not allow militants to operate on its territory.