India behind Quetta mosque blast, claims Balochistan Home Minister

A police officer examines the site of Friday’s bomb explosion inside a mosque in Quetta on Jan. 11, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 11 January 2020

India behind Quetta mosque blast, claims Balochistan Home Minister

  • Daesh on Friday claimed responsibility for the attack and said its target was Afghan Taliban
  • PM Khan has demanded an ‘immediate report’ on the terrorist attack

KARACHI: Balochistan’s Home Minister on Saturday blamed arch-rival India for Friday’s deadly bombing at a Quetta mosque-- an attack claimed by Daesh in a statement.
The explosion, which ripped through the mosque during evening prayers in the densely populated Ghous Abad neighborhood, killed 15 people including a deputy superintendent of police and injured dozens of others.
Daesh said in a statement on Friday, that the target of the suicide bombing was the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan’s state policy denies the presence of the group on its soil.
“India is behind the suicide attack inside the mosque and it has been using Afghanistan’s soil for carrying out terrorist activities inside our country,” Mir Zia Ullah Langove told Arab News.
He denied that the mosque and seminary was run by the Afghan Taliban.
“It is a totally local madrasa (seminary) and the reports claiming it was run by any foreigner are completely baseless,” Langove said, following a high level security related meeting.
According to a handout, the meeting reassessed the security situation and decided to take all possible steps for eliminating terrorism. Friday’s attack was the second in the city this week.
“We are investigating the presence of any foreigner and will share the outcome within the next three days,” Langove continued, and added: “Security forces are ready and will foil all evil designs of the enemies of Pakistan.”
Earlier, two members of the Afghan Taliban told Arab News that the mosque and its attached seminary belonged to the Afghan Taliban chief justice, Sheikh Abdul Hakeem.
Hakeem’s brother was killed in the blast while his son was in critical condition, they said.
An audio message in Pashto making the rounds among Taliban figures-- a copy of which has been received and verified by Arab News-- reiterated the news.
Taliban spokesman, Qari Muhammad Yousaf, however, denied the presence of any Taliban leaders at the mosque.
In a Twitter post on Saturday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said he had demanded an ‘immediate report’ of the incident.
“I have demanded an immediate report on the condemnable, cowardly terrorist attack in Quetta targeting a mosque & people at prayers. Have asked prov govt to ensure all medical facilities are provided to the injured. Martyred DSP Hajji Amanullah was a brave & exemplary officer,” Khan tweeted.
The southwestern province of Balochistan, of which Quetta is capital, is at the center of the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
But violence in the restive province has fueled concerns about the security of planned mega projects-- part of Beijing’s Belt and Road project.

South Africa's Du Plessis says bubble life is not sustainable for players

Updated 23 January 2021

South Africa's Du Plessis says bubble life is not sustainable for players

  • South Africa's Du Plessis says bubble life is not sustainable for players
  • The South African player beleives Babar Azam and Shaheen Afridi can pose problems for his team

ISLAMABAD: South African cricketer Faf du Plessis believes spending months in a bio-secure bubble could soon become a major challenge for players.

“We understand that this is a very tough season and a tough challenge for a lot of people out there, but if it’s back-to-back-to-back bubble life, things would become a big challenge,” du Plessis said during a virtual news conference on Saturday.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, cricketers have to adhere to strict procedures for an international series. In countries like Pakistan, international games are being played in empty stadiums and players' movement confined to just their hotel and stadiums.

Du Plessis is one of those South African cricketers, along with captain Quinton de Kock, to have experienced life in a bubble over the last few months. He played in the Indian Premier League in the United Arab Emirates and home series against Sri Lanka. Now he has a two-test series in Pakistan, starting Tuesday in Karachi, followed by the second test at Rawalpindi.

“The main priority is to play cricket, to be out there doing what we love instead of being at home … so I think that still remains the most important thing. But I think there would definitely come a point where players would struggle with this (bubble)," du Plessis said.

“If you look at a calendar of the last eight months, you’re looking at about four or five months in a bubble, which is a lot. For some of us (being) without family, it can get challenging. Right now, I’m still in a good place. I’m still feeling really motivated and driven, but I can only speak for myself.

“I don’t think it’s possible to continue from bubble to bubble to bubble, I’ve seen and heard a lot of players talk about it. I don’t think it’s sustainable.”

The South African team practiced at the National Stadium -- the venue for the test opener -- for the first time on Saturday. Before that, the visitors had been practicing at a stadium close to the team hotel for the last four days where they played intra-squad matches.

“For now, (I'm) enjoying the four walls of my room and then the pitch outside where we can get to do what we love,” du Plessis said.

The 36-year-old du Plessis, who has appeared in 67 test matches for South Africa with a batting average topping 40, will be playing his first test in Pakistan since making his debut against Australia in 2012. Pakistan last hosted South Africa in 2007. In 2009 international cricket’s doors were shut on Pakistan after an attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team bus at Lahore.

Du Plessis has played seven test matches against Pakistan that included two in the UAE and five in South Africa.

Du Plessis is South Africa’s most experienced player touring Pakistan, but wasn’t sure what type of wickets will be prepared for the two tests.

“I think that’s possibly the biggest thing that we are unsure about,” he said.

“As a team we try to prepare for everything and anything, overprepare, spin conditions, reverse swinging ball … if I have to call it, I probably said I think that wickets will be a bit more subcontinent like than it used to be back then (in 2007), so spinners would probably be more a little bit more in the game.”

Du Plessis has picked fit-again Pakistan all-format captain Babar Azam and fast bowler Shaheen Afridi as the two players who could pose problems for the tourists. Babar has regained fitness from a fractured thumb — in his absence Pakistan lost both the Twenty20 and test series in New Zealand.

“Obviously, having Babar back is massive for them,” du Plessis said.

“Afridi has been getting a lot of wickets, so probably someone like him would be pretty dangerous.”