Pakistani fighters battle it out in ancient, long-neglected form of wrestling 

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Huzoor Bukh (r) throws his opponent Muhammad Akhter to the ground during a Malakhra wrestling match at the Mohammad Football stadium in Karachi, Pakistan, on December 15, 2020 (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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Huzoor Bukh (r) throws his opponent Muhammad Akhter to the ground during a Malakhra wrestling match at the Mohammad Football stadium in Karachi, Pakistan, on December 15, 2020 (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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Wrestler Khairuddin alias Talib tries to toss his contender Tedi Sheedi to the ground during a Malakhra wrestling match at the Mohammad Football stadium in Karachi, Pakistan, on December 15, 2020 (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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Wrestler Tedi Sheedi pushes his opponent Khairuddin alias Talib to the ground during a Malakhra wrestling match at the Mohammad Football stadium in Karachi, Pakistan, on December 15, 2020 (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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Ghulam Hussain Pathan, a 19-year-old wrestler from Sanghar, throws his opponent Kabutar Khashkheli to the ground at a Malakhra wrestling match at the Mohammad Football stadium in Karachi, Pakistan, on December 15, 2020 (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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The injured right ankle of a player is photographed during a Malakhra wrestling match at the Mohammad Football stadium in Karachi, Pakistan, on December 15, 2020 (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)
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Updated 16 December 2020

Pakistani fighters battle it out in ancient, long-neglected form of wrestling 

  • Malakhra has been played for the last 5,000 years in the regions that make up present day Pakistan and India
  • Players and supervisors of the game lament its neglect in a city and nation obsessed with the game of cricket 

KARACHI: Wrestlers from across Pakistan’s southern Sindh province battled on Tuesday in the final match of an ancient form of wrestling called Malakhra that has been played for the last 5,000 years in the regions that make up present day Pakistan and India.
In Karachi, Malakhra contests, often also held in Iran and Afghanistan, started in 1978, said Gul Sher Sheedi, a 61-year-old former wrestler who supervised Tuesday’s match.




Gul Sher Sheedi, a former wrestler who supervises Malakhra wrestling matches, speaks to Arab News in Karachi, Pakistan, on December 15, 2020 (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)




Wrestler Tedi Sheedi pushes his opponent Khairuddin alias Talib to the ground during a Malakhra wrestling match at the Mohammad Football stadium in Karachi, Pakistan, on December 15, 2020 (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)

A Malakhra match starts with both wrestlers tying a twisted cloth around the opponent's waist and then trying to throw the contender to the ground. The game spans three days, with three wrestlers ultimately bagging the first, second and third prize after a finale.




A twisted cloth used to tie opponents is seen at a Malakhra wrestling match at the Mohammad Football stadium in Karachi, Pakistan, on December 15, 2020 (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)




Wrestler Tedi Sheedi collects money from spectators after defeating his opponent at a Malakhra wrestling match at the Mohammad Football stadium in Karachi, Pakistan, on December 15, 2020 (AN Photo by S.A. Babar) 


On Tuesday, though hundreds gathered at Karachi’s Mohammadan football stadium to watch the final match of the season, Sheedi lamented that the game received little attention in a cricket-obsessed city and country. 
“The tournament is being held on the occasion of the death anniversary of Hazrat Syed Mahmood Shah,” Sheedi said, referring to a local saint.
Khairuddin alias Talib, who defeated his opponent Tedi Sheedi, said the three winners would get cash prizes but the other contestants would go home with “nothing.” 
“We entertain people, we have kept this old game alive. But what do we get?” he said. “We get nothing, neither money, nor the limelight.”




A Malakhra wrestling match is underway at the Mohammad Football stadium in Karachi, Pakistan, on December 15, 2020 (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)

 


Nearly 90% Pakistanis in favor of compulsory Arabic classes — Gallup survey  

Updated 56 min 19 sec ago

Nearly 90% Pakistanis in favor of compulsory Arabic classes — Gallup survey  

  • Senate approved Compulsory Teaching of the Arabic Language Bill 2020 on Feb. 1
  • The bill makes Arabic classes mandatory at all primary and secondary schools in the federal capital

ISLAMABAD: Nearly 90 percent of Pakistanis are in favor of a senate bill that makes Arabic classes compulsory at school, a recent survey shows.

Pakistan’s upper house of parliament last month approved the Compulsory Teaching of the Arabic Language Bill 2020 which makes Arabic classes mandatory at all primary and secondary schools in the capital, Islamabad.

“Eighty-nine percent Pakistanis said that they are in favor of the approval of a Senate bill that calls for Arabic to be a mandatory part of the syllabus in educational institutions,” Gallup & Gilani Pakistan said in the study released on Friday.

The study was carried out on a sample of 1,503 men and women in urban and rural areas of 100 districts of all four provinces of Pakistan between Feb. 6 and Feb. 27.

To become law, the senate bill on Arabic teaching now requires approval by the National Assembly.

The lawmaker who presented the bill, opposition senator Javed Abbasi, argued that a command of Arabic, the official language of over 25 countries, would open up more job opportunities for Pakistanis in the Middle East, leading to lower unemployment and increased remittances.


Pakistan Air Force offers support, training to Sri Lankan military

Updated 07 March 2021

Pakistan Air Force offers support, training to Sri Lankan military

  • Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan earlier this week met Sri Lankan PM Mahinda Rajapaksa and top military officials in Colombo
  • Pakistan last month offered a $50 million credit line to Sri Lanka for cooperation in the field of defense and security  

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) chief has offered support to and agreed to strengthen cooperation with the Sri Lankan military, PAF said on Saturday.

Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan arrived in Colombo on Thursday, where he met with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and top military officials.

As Marshal Khan lauded the efforts of Sri Lankan Armed Forces in their fight against terrorism during a meeting with Defense Secretary Gen. Kamal Gunaratne, he offered Pakistan's support and cooperation, PAF said in a statement.


In this photo released by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on March 6, 2021, Pakistan Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan meets Sri Lanka Defense Secretary Gen. Kamal Gunaratne in Colombo. (Photo courtesy: PAF)

"The leaders agreed to further enhance bilateral cooperation especially in training and professional enhancement programs," PAF said, adding that Gen. Gunaratne welcomed the Pakistani air chief's visit as "manifestation of the strong bond between the Armed Forces of both the countries, especially the two Air Forces."

The Pakistani air chief's visit follows Prime Minister Imran Khan's official visit in late February, during which Pakistan offered a $50 million new credit line to Sri Lanka for cooperation in the field of defense and security.


Train derails killing 1, injuring 40 in southern Pakistan

Updated 07 March 2021

Train derails killing 1, injuring 40 in southern Pakistan

  • Accident took place between the Rohri and Sangi stations in southern Sindh province
  • Eight cars of the 18-car train from Karachi to Lahore derailed and six fell into a shallow ditch

MULTAN: Eight cars of a Lahore-bound train derailed in southern Pakistan early Sunday, killing at least one passenger and injuring 40 others, officials said.

The accident took place between the Rohri and Sangi stations in southern Sindh province and caused a temporary suspension of railway traffic in both directions, said Kamran Lashari, a railway official.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the derailment. Train accidents are common in Pakistan, where successive governments have paid little attention to improving the poorly maintained signal system and aging tracks.

Lashari said eight cars of the 18-car train that departed from Karachi for the eastern city of Lahore derailed and six fell into a shallow ditch.

Rescue official Muhammad Arshad said darkness and the remote location of the derailment hampered rescue efforts. He said the body of the woman who died and 40 injured passengers were taken to hospitals in nearby towns. It wasn’t immediately clear how many passengers were on the train.

Railway Minister Azam Sawati told a local television station that the accident was being investigated and the government would provide financial compensation to the heirs of deceased woman and all the injured.


Pakistan’s security forces kill eight militants in North Waziristan — ISPR

Updated 07 March 2021

Pakistan’s security forces kill eight militants in North Waziristan — ISPR

  • The tribal district bordering Afghanistan remained a militant stronghold for many years until authorities launched military operations in the area
  • The militants killed in the recent attacks were involved in terrorist activities against security forces and locals since 2009

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s security forces conducted two separate intelligence-based operations in North Waziristan district, said the military’s media wing, ISPR, in an official statement on Saturday, adding that eight militants were killed in the ensuing battles. 

The tribal district bordering Afghanistan remained a militant stronghold until Pakistani authorities launched clear-and-hold military operations to destroy the hideouts and communication centers of various proscribed groups. 

The recent operations in the territory were launched against Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants in which three senior commanders of the outfit were also killed, the ISPR statement informed. 

It added that these people were “involved in terrorist activities against security forces, law enforcement agencies and locals of the area since 2009.” 

The militants used improvised explosive devices and indulged in target killings, kidnapping for ransom and extortion. 

The statement continued that the TTP members were also involved in recruiting young and impressionable minds, adding that security personnel recovered huge caches of arms from their hideouts. 


PM Khan asks Hafeez Shaikh to continue as finance minister after Senate defeat

Updated 06 March 2021

PM Khan asks Hafeez Shaikh to continue as finance minister after Senate defeat

  • The prime minister expresses his faith in Shaikh's professional abilities while praising him for shoring up the national economy
  • Shaikh can work in his current capacity until June, though the government may try again to get him elected to parliament

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has told his close aide Abdul Hafeez Shaikh to continue working as finance minister after Shaikh lost a general seat from the federal capital to a joint opposition candidate in the recent Senate elections, local media reported on Saturday.
In a one-on-one meeting after securing the vote of confidence from parliament earlier in the day, Khan said he had complete faith in Shaikh's professional abilities and applauded him for shoring up the ailing national economy.
The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) administration relied heavily on its finance minister to bring down the current account deficit and keep the financial system on track during the coronavirus pandemic.
After the Islamabad High Court ruled in a case in December that no special assistant or advisor to prime minister could chair or participate in cabinet committee meetings, Khan exercised his constitutional authority to elevate Shaikh as a federal minister for a period of six months.
According to Article 91 (9) of the Constitution, the finance minister cannot be reappointed to the same position as an unelected individual, and his defeat in the Senate election implies he may only be able to serve in his current capacity until June.
According to The Express Tribune, however, the government is likely to make one more effort to get him elected to the upper house of parliament by de-seating an opposition member, Ishaq Dar, who was elected to the Senate from Punjab in 2018 but did not take oath to the office.