'No chance' of India-Pakistan series under Modi government, Shahid Afridi says

Pakistani cricket star Shahid Afridi talks to Arab News at his home in Karachi on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. (AN photo)
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Updated 27 September 2020

'No chance' of India-Pakistan series under Modi government, Shahid Afridi says

  • Former Pakistani skipper says Pakistani players missing ‘big opportunity’ by not playing in Indian Premier League
  • “Love is love, I have always appreciated the love and respect I have gotten from the people of India,” Afridi says

KARACHI: Pakistani all-rounder and former skipper Shahid Khan Afridi has said there was ‘no chance’ of reviving cricketing ties with India as long as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in power.
Strained relations between the two nations, who were one before the partition of British India split them into India and Pakistan in 1947, and a decades-long dispute over the Himalayan valley of Kashmir, has laid the foundations of one of the most intense sports rivalries in the world.
Ties have been especially strained over the last year when Modi’s government stripped the autonomy of Kashmir, which both nations rule in part but claim in full.
Pakistan and Indian have not played a bilateral Test series since 2008 when already brittle ties were shattered by the Mumbai attacks.
“The government of Pakistan is always ready but with the present regime [in India] there are no such chances of [resuming] cricket relations, of [Pakistan-India] series,” Afridi told Arab News in a wide-ranging interview at his home in Karachi this week. “With Modi in power, I don’t see it’s going to happen.”

Both India and Pakistan are crazy about cricket and emotions and adrenaline run high whenever the two sides play each other, usually in packed stadiums resounding with jingoistic slogans.
New Delhi and Islamabad have in the past used cricket matches to try to make progress on issues that have dogged relations since 1947, especially over the fate of the Kashmir region.
In 1987, then-Pakistan President general Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq visited India to watch a cricket match but the event was also used to defuse a crisis over troop build-ups on one of the world’s most militarised borders, and the Pakistani leader met Indian prime minister of the day, Rajiv Gandhi.
In 2005, Pakistan’s then-military ruler Pervez Musharraf visited India to watch a cricket match, but the trip also became a summit with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the two leaders agreed to open up the Kashmir border.
Afridi agreed that sports could play an important role in improving relations between the two countries, especially since cricket was like a “religion” for the people of India and Pakistan: “So, I think that sports are a thing which can help improve ties.”
Commenting on the 2020 Indian Premier League, which was originally scheduled to begin in March in India but is being held in the United Arab Emirates due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Afridi said Pakistani players were missing a “big opportunity” by not being part of the tournament.
“I know that IPL is a very big brand in the world of cricket and it is an excellent opportunity for, whether it’s Babar Azam, or many other Pakistani players to go there [to India] and play under pressure and share dressing rooms,” the Pakistani cricketer said. “So in my opinion Pakistani players are missing a big opportunity.”
Asked if he stood by an earlier statement that he was more loved in India than in Pakistan, Afridi said: “If their love is true, no one can take it away, no matter whose government it is.”
“Love is love,” the cricketer said. “No doubt, the way I have enjoyed cricket in India; I have always appreciated the love and respect that I have gotten from the people of India. And now when I speak on social media, I get many messages from India and I reply to many people. I believe that my overall experience of India has been excellent.”




Pakistani cricket star Shahid Afridi talks to Arab News at his home in Karachi on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. (AN photo) 

Speaking about the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Afridi said Khan had been an exemplary cricketer who led Pakistan to world cup victory in 1992, but as prime minister one should not expect him to change decades of problems in a few years.
“It’s the time to fulfill the promises he [Khan] had made before elections,” he said. “This is a great opportunity; army is with you, judiciary is there. All are on one page.”
Khan has a favorable “ground and pitch” to achieve success, Afridi said, adding that the PM needed a stronger team to help him win.
“Imran bhai will have to play [with a] strong team, [he] will have to take honest and clean people along with him,” he said. “The people who we see around Imran bhai should work for this country so a time may not come when Imran bhai is all alone.”

Speaking about punishing culprits in the recent case of a woman who was gang-raped on a major highway this month in front of her children, Afridi said: “Don’t hang them publicly. Hang them [while] hiding [from people] but do hang them and set an example, and do it immediately.”

 

 

 

The 40-year-old cricketer is also well-known for his philanthropic work across Pakistan and has formerly worked with UNICEF and a number of national organizations. He told Arab News his parents were his “inspiration” for starting charity work and setting up the Shahid Afridi Foundation, which aims to provide education, health care, access to water and sports rehabilitation in Pakistan’s underprivileged communities.
Afridi has established hospitals in his hometown of Tirah in Khyber district as well as Kohat. His foundation has distributed ration among 40,000 families across Pakistan and offers free education to deserving students in 14 schools across Pakistan. It also gives scholarships to 10 students from the tribal areas each year.
Afridi has launched 200 water projects in the tribal districts and the parched Tharparkar region in Sindh and also helped repatriate over 250 Pakistanis who were stranded in the Middle East due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We will have to educate these children,” he said, referring to Pakistan’s tribal areas. “I hope [cricket] academies will reach these areas.”


Challenge accepted: Saudi national cricket team invites Peshawar Zalmi to play in kingdom

Updated 59 min 45 sec ago

Challenge accepted: Saudi national cricket team invites Peshawar Zalmi to play in kingdom

  • Peshawar Zalmi owner hinted last week of taking his team to Saudi Arabia for a friendly match
  • Arab News has been selected as the official media partner of the Saudi cricket team

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s national cricket team has accepted the challenge by the Pakistan cricket franchise Peshawar Zalmi inviting them for a friendly game.

The owner of one of Pakistan’s most popular cricket franchises, Peshawar Zalmi, hinted last week of taking his team to Saudi Arabia for a friendly match, soon after news emerged that Arab News had been selected as the official media partner of the Saudi cricket team.

READ MORE

Arab News, Saudi Arabia’s leading English language daily, has been selected by the Saudi cricket federation to be the national team’s official media partner. Read more here.

Javed Afridi’s successful franchise is represented by cricketing legends like former West Indian skipper Daren Sammy, South African star batsman Hashim Amla, and Pakistan all rounders Wahab Riaz and Shoaib Malik, and others from the world’s biggest test playing teams.

“Best wishes to cricket KSA. How about Peshawar Zalmi VS KSA in Saudi,” Afridi wrote on Twitter.

Responding to it the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation (SACF) told Arab News: “We thank Afridi for the wonderful gesture, good wishes to the Saudi national cricket team and appreciation. We look forward to a lot of cooperation with all great cricket playing countries, such as Pakistan.

“As far as invitation to play a friendly game is concerned, we accept the challenge and look forward to playing the game at a mutually agreed date and place, here in Saudi Arabia," said Nadeem Nadwi, General Manager, SACF.

SACF, established in 2020, has lined up a series of major programs focused on promoting the game in the Kingdom and things are set to change rapidly.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News last week, SACF chairman Prince Saud Bin Mishal Al-Saud revealed the game-changing plans for cricket, outlining a series of major initiatives that will increase participation at community, club, and international level.

Among those competitions is the National Cricket Championship, played across 11 cities and part of four programs that SACF signed with the Saudi Sports For All Federation. Launched in February 2021, it is to date the largest cricket tournament held in the history of Saudi Arabia.

Moreover, there will be a corporate cricket tournament launched in October and November, a cricket league for expatriate workers, and a social cricket program introduced in various cities. Throughout the year, SACF is planning to have 20,000 participants taking part in these programs.

The federation has signed several deals and MoUs with governmental, semi-governmental, and non-governmental entities setting out plans to raise awareness of the game, increase cricket facilities nationwide, and introduce the sport to Saudi youth through school programs.


World must recognize Pakistan's commitment to regional stability, says top general

Updated 10 April 2021

World must recognize Pakistan's commitment to regional stability, says top general

  • General Nadeem Raza asks the international community to take notice of rights violations in Indian-administered Kashmir
  • Says the nation has high expectations of the country's armed forces while addressing a graduation ceremony at the Pakistan Military Academy

ISLAMABAD: Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Nadeem Raza said Saturday the world must recognize Pakistan's consistent peace overtures to its eastern neighbor and take notice of rights violations in Indian-administered Kashmir while addressing graduating cadets at the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul.
According to an official statement released by the military media wing, ISPR, Raza said his country was committed to peace and had made significant contributions to regional stability.
He also maintained that the whole nation stood united against the menace of extremism and had high expectations of the Pakistani armed forces.
The CJCSC made these observations during his visit to the country's premier military training institution where he reviewed the graduation parade of the 143rd PMA Long Course.
Among those who successfully completed the rigorous training also included young cadets from Iraq, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Nepal.
Raza advised all PMA graduates, including members of the 17th Lady Cadet Course, to keep themselves abreast with latest challenges.
"The only way to meet these challenges is through professional prowess and dedication as the Nation pins high hopes on Armed Forces of Pakistan," the ISPR statement quoted him as saying.


Rizwan steers Pakistan to their highest-winning T20 run chase

Updated 10 April 2021

Rizwan steers Pakistan to their highest-winning T20 run chase

  • Pakistan's previous highest T20 chase was 188 against Australia in Harare in 2018
  • Rizwan made an unbeaten 74 as Pakistan chased down a target of 189 with one ball to spare

JOHANNESBURG: Opening batsman Mohammad Rizwan steered Pakistan to their highest winning run chase as they beat South Africa by four wickets in the first Twenty20 international at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Rizwan made an unbeaten 74 as Pakistan chased down a target of 189 with one ball to spare.

Their previous highest T20 chase was 188 against Australia in Harare in 2018.

The match swung in the last four overs of the two innings.
South Africa could score only 29 in their last four overs, while Pakistan thrashed 52 off the last 3.5 overs

BRIEF SCORES

South Africa 188-6 in 20 overs (A. Markram 51, H. Klaasen 50; Mohammad Nawaz 2-21, Hasan Ali 2-28)

Pakistan 189-6 in 19.5 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 74 not out, Faheem Ashraf 30; B. Hendricks 3-32, T. Shamsi 2-29)

RESULT

Pakistan won by 4 wickets

Series: Pakistan lead the four-match series 1-0

Toss: South Africa


Major opposition party leads in re-election in Pakistani town of Daska

Updated 11 April 2021

Major opposition party leads in re-election in Pakistani town of Daska

  • Local news channels claim the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is winning the contest in Punjab's NA-75 constituency
  • The Election Commission of Pakistan held a by-poll in the area last February but later declared it null and void

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s local news channels claimed Saturday the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party was winning a closely watched electoral contest for a National Assembly seat in Punjab that fell vacant after the death of an opposition lawmaker Syed Iftikharul Hassan Shah last year.
Tens of thousands of people voted to elect their new representative in a re-election held earlier in the day for the NA-75 seat from Daska, a small town in Sialkot district.
The country’s election authorities held a by-poll in the area last February, but later declared the contest null and void due to widespread irregularities that the PML-N blamed on the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
The Election Commission of Pakistan suspected back in February that the results of 20 polling stations had been falsified.
Saturday’s electoral contest was largely believed to be between PML-N candidate Nosheen Iftikhar and PTI ticket holder Ali Asjad Malhi, though there were other politicians who also participated in it.
Pakistani election authorities informed a local news channel earlier in the day they had tried to provide a free and fair environment to hold a transparent election.
“Rangers are on patrol duty, ensuring the transportation of election staff and material, while army troops have been stationed in Daska Stadium and will be available on call,” Dawn newspaper reported. “To make the conduct of the re-poll transparent, CCTV cameras have been installed at 47 sensitive polling stations, out of a total 360.”


Pakistan among nations subject to quarantine in Ireland starting April 15

Updated 10 April 2021

Pakistan among nations subject to quarantine in Ireland starting April 15

  • Dublin joined neighboring Britain in bringing in the regime for people from countries deemed "high risk"
  • Strict lockdown in Ireland has turned one of the world's highest incidence rates of COVID-19 into one of Europe's lowest

DUBLIN: Ireland added Pakistan, Turkey, United States, Canada, Belgium, France and Italy to its list of countries where arrivals will be subject to mandatory hotel quarantine, tightening some of Europe's toughest travel restrictions to try to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Ireland, the only one of the European Union's 27 countries to introduce a hotel quarantine, announced it will also require all arrivals to have booked a COVID-19 test for five days after landing in addition to one taken in the days before travelling.

It followed neighbouring Britain in bringing in the regime for people from countries deemed "high risk" or those without a negative COVID-19 test. However, Britain has so far resisted calls for the inclusion of some European countries.

A strict lockdown in Ireland since late December has turned one of the world's highest incidence rates of COVID-19 into one of Europe's lowest.

Elsewhere in the continent, Norway requires a forced stay in a quarantine hotel for at least a week for anyone coming from abroad who does not own property, or can borrow the use of a property, in the country.

Armenia, Bangladesh, Bermuda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Curacao, Kenya, Luxembourg, Maldives and Ukraine will also be subject to quarantine in Ireland starting April 15, the health ministry said in a statement.

Israel, Albania and Saint Lucia were removed, having been added just over a week ago, meaning arrivals from more than 70 countries must quarantine for up to 14 days in a hotel room, or leave after 10 if they test negative for COVID-19.

The government initially stopped short of a recommendation by health officials last week to add a number of EU countries where large numbers of Irish nationals live, citing potential legal challenges around the bloc's freedom of movement rules.

Hotel quarantine rules are planned to be in place for only a few months, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said this week. Tourism groups have criticised the government for not providing an exit plan on how they would unwind the measures.

"We can see a permanent pathway out of this pandemic but can't allow variants of concern to set us back on the progress we have made," Donnelly said in a statement on Friday.