Young Pakistani footballers get warm welcome in Saudi Arabia

A 30-member contingent of Pakistan U-16 Football team and officials snapped at Jeddah Airport of Saudi Arabia on Sept. 12, 2019. (Photo courtesy: Pakistan Football Federation)
Updated 13 September 2019

Young Pakistani footballers get warm welcome in Saudi Arabia

  • Excited to play good football in Saudi Arabia, says Pakistan’s U-16 team
  • Pakistan will play matches against Saudi Arabia, Syria and Oman

LAHORE: Pakistan Under-sixteen (U-16) Football team received a warm welcome at Jeddah Airport as they reached Saudi Arabia on Thursday to participate in Asian Football Championship qualifying round matches.
A 30-member squad, footballers and officials, was received by the delegation of the host federation led by Thamer Alharthi, Protocol and Liaison Officer of Saudi Arabia Football Federation.
“We are very excited to play good football in Saudi Arabia,” said Mohib Ullah, a member of the Pakistani squad. “We are being given warm hospitality here in Saudi Arabia by the hosts,” he told Arab News.
Pakistan U-16 team will play qualifying matches with other three Arab teams including Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Oman starting from September 18 in Dammam.
Pakistan will play its first match against Oman on September 18, its second against Saudi Arabia on September 20 while the third and the last game will be on September 22 against Syria.
Ahead of the matches in Saudi Arabia, FIFA accredited Pakistan Football Secretariat held a six-week training camp for the young footballers selected to play the Asian Football Championship (AFC) championship.
“The team is in good shape. In the six weeks long camp, all the possible training measures have been taken. We will play according to aggressive strategy,” Jose Roberto Portella, Brazilian national, head coach for Pakistani team told Arab News.


PM pledges full support for Punjab CM Buzdar as party shows cracks

Updated 26 January 2020

PM pledges full support for Punjab CM Buzdar as party shows cracks

  • PTI’s KP chief on Sunday expelled three cabinet members for creating pressure against him
  • Political analysts say main challenge for government is to keep its coalition partners intact

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed to fully support Punjab’s Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and quashed any questions of his replacement in a ministerial meeting in Lahore on Sunday amid reports of growing differences within the party, according to a lawmaker present at the meeting. 
Earlier, a group of 20 dissident lawmakers of the ruling party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) in Punjab-- Pakistan’s biggest province-- demanded Buzdar improve governance of the province and ensure a fair distribution of development funds among the districts.
“The Prime Minister said that Buzdar enjoyed his full support and any change in Punjab set-up would create trouble for the party,” a senior leader of the PTI and member of the national assembly Raja Riaz told Arab News.
“He said that Buzdar would continue as Punjab Chief Minister and the party has no plans of changing him,” Riaz said.
The Prime Minister’s support for Buzdar comes on the same day three senior ministers of PTI’s provincial government in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province were expelled, reportedly to quell party differences. In media reports, the ministers have been accused of creating a forward bloc against KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan. 
KP’s sacked ministers include Muhammad Atif Khan, who looked after sports, culture and tourism; Shahram Khan Tarakai, who was responsible for the provincial health sector; and Shakeel Ahmed, who held the portfolio of revenue and estate.
According to prominent political analysts in Pakistan, the political moves signal that leaders of the ruling party are losing control of their lawmakers due to bad governance and a failure to improve the economy to benefit the common man.
“The cracks in the ruling party show a total failure of governance,” Adnan Rehmat, a political analyst, told Arab News. “PTI leaders, including the prime minister, have been living in a bubble while the people have been suffering for their inaction.”
Rehmat said that differences in ruling parties start emerging when they fail to deliver and meet public expectations. 
“The provincial ministers who are fired were apparently lobbying to gain more privileges and authority, but the leadership seems to have taken it as a violation of party discipline,” he said.
Now it seems, the ruling party’s problems are not only limited to its own lawmakers. The party’s coalition partners have also been voicing concerns over governance and performance. A key cabinet member of the government from Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) resigned from his position earlier this month, saying the government had not fulfilled their demands.
“The coalition governments have been inherently weak in nature as the partners always try to extract maximum concessions and benefits from the ruling party,” Zaigham Khan, a political analyst, told Arab News.
“Now with each passing day, public pressure and demands of its coalition partners will increase, and this government will become more unstable,” he said.
“Main challenge for this government is to keep its coalition partners intact in both the center and Punjab; otherwise the equation may change in the coming months,” he added.
“Imran Khan has fully supported Usman Buzdar as chief minister of the Punjab, but will it bridge the gulf among the party fellows?” senior journalist Salim Bokhari told Arab News. “That is the big question.”