Pakistan’s flagship cricket super league resumes in Abu Dhabi today

Players of Pakistan Super League teams Peshawar Zalmi and Karachi Kings take part in practice match in Abu Dhabi on June 8, 2021. (Photo courtesy: Pakistan Cricket Board)
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Updated 09 June 2021

Pakistan’s flagship cricket super league resumes in Abu Dhabi today

  • HBL Pakistan Super League was postponed in March after a string of positive coronavirus cases among players and officials
  • While previous matches were held in Pakistan, the resumed series is being hosted at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s flagship cricket super league tournament will resume in Abu Dhabi today, Wednesday, with Lahore Qalandars and Islamabad United facing each other for a match that will start at 2100 Pakistan time (2000 UAE time).
The HBL Pakistan Super League was postponed in March after a string of positive coronavirus cases among players and officials. While previous matches were held in Pakistan, the resumed series is being hosted at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi.
“Both Qalandars and United, along with Karachi Kings and Peshawar Zalmi, are locked at six points apiece,” PCB said in a statement. “But, the two sides have played one less match as compared with Kings and Zalmi, meaning Wednesday’s winner will go top of the points table after halfway stage in the competition.”
Though the resumption of the tournament faced logistical challenges due to Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India and South Africa being on the United Arab Emirates’ red-list of countries for travel, “with the support of the Abu Dhabi and Pakistan Governments, Abu Dhabi Sports Council and the Emirates Cricket Board, the PCB was able to resolve all outstanding matters,” PCB said.
The PCB says it is committed to holding the 2022 tournament in Pakistan.
A number of leading international stars will be featuring in the remaining 20 matches, including Usman Khawaja (Islamabad United), Faf du Plessis (Quetta Gladiators), Martin Guptill (Karachi Kings), David Miller (Peshawar Zalmi), Shimron Hetmyer (Multan Sultans) and Rashid Khan (Lahore Qalandars).
They will be joined by Pakistan’s white-ball experts as well as emerging stars, including Babar Azam, Arshad Iqbal, Azam Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jr., Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sharjeel Khan and Usman Qadir.
These players have been named in Pakistan men’s squads for the three T20Is against England and five T20Is against world champions the West Indies.
HBL PSL 6 squads for Abu Dhabi-leg:
Final squads (in alphabetical order):
Islamabad United – Shadab Khan (c), Ahmed Saifi Abdullah, Ali Khan, Akif Javed, Asif Ali, Brandon King, Colin Munro, Fawad Ahmed, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Wasim Jr., Mohammad Akhlaq, Musa Khan, Rohail Nazir, Umar Amin, Usman Khawaja, Zafar Gohar and Zeeshan Zameer
Karachi Kings — Imad Wasim (c), Abbas Afridi, Amir Yamin, Arshad Iqbal, Babar Azam, Chadwick Walton, Danish Aziz, Martin Guptill, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Ilyas, Mohammad Haris, Thisara Perera, Najeebullah Zadran, Noor Ahmed, Qasim Akram, Sharjeel Khan, Waqas Maqsood and Zeeshan Malik
Lahore Qalandars – Sohail Akhtar (c), Ahmed Danyal, Ben Dunk, Callum Ferguson, Dilbar Hussain, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, James Faulkner, Maaz Khan, Mohammad Faizan, Mohammad Hafeez, Rashid Khan, Salman Ali Agha, Seekuge Prasana, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sultan Ahmed, Tim David, Zaid Alam and Zeeshan Ashraf
Multan Sultans– Mohammad Rizwan (c), Asif Afridi, Hammad Azam, Imran Tahir, Imran Khan Sr., Johnson Charles, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Umar, Blessing Muzarabani, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Rilee Rossouw, Shahnawaz Dhani, Shan Masood, Shimron Hetmyer (partially available), Sohaib Maqsood, Sohaibullah, Sohail Khan, Sohail Tanvir, Usman Qadir and Muhammad Waseem
Peshawar Zalmi– Wahab Riaz (c), Abrar Ahmed, Amad Butt, Bismillah Khan, David Miller (partially available), Fabian Allen (partially available), Fidel Edwards (partially available), Haider Ali, Hazratullah Zazai, Imam-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Amir Khan, Mohammad Irfan Sr., Mohammad Imran Jr., Mohammad Imran Randhawa, Rovman Powell, Sherfane Rutherford, Shoaib Malik, Umaid Asif and Waqar Salamkheil
Quetta Gladiators – Sarfaraz Ahmed (c), Abdul Nasir, Andre Russell (partially available), Arish Ali Khan, Azam Khan, Cameron Delport, Faf du Plessis, Hassan Khan, Jack Wildermuth, Jake Weatherald, Khurram Shehzad, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Usman Khan, Usman Shinwari, Zahid Mahmood and Zahir Khan


Pakistan issues fresh guidelines for Eid Al-Adha as COVID-19 cases rise

Updated 05 July 2022

Pakistan issues fresh guidelines for Eid Al-Adha as COVID-19 cases rise

  • Pakistan has had very few COVID-19 cases in recent months and did away with almost all precautions
  • In 24 hours, Pakistan recorded 653 positive cases, nearly double the number at the start of last Monday

ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), Pakistan’s federal pandemic response body, on Tuesday issued fresh guidelines for Eid Al-Adha, urging people to follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) as coronavirus cases rise across the country.

Pakistan has had very few COVID-19 cases in recent months and did away with almost all precautions.

But over the past 24 hours, the country recorded 653 positive cases, nearly double the number at the start of last Monday, according to NIH data. Over 162 people were reported to be in critical care.

 

“Eid UI Adha prayers should be organized in open spaces under stringent COVID protocols. In case of any compulsion to offer the prayers inside mosques, then all windows and doors should be kept open for ventilation / to minimize the chances of disease spread,” the NCOC said in a statement.

The body said up to three Eid prayers should be organized at a single venue with staggered timings to allow maximum people to offer prayers with COVID-19 protocols in place.

“All ulemas leading Eid prayers should be sensitised to keep sermons ... short so that people remain present in the prayer venues for a brief duration,” the guidelines said. “Efforts should be made to discourage sick, elderly and young children from attending Eid prayers.”

People without face masks should not be allowed to enter the prayer venue, the NCOC said, adding that prayer venues should have multiple entry and exit points and venue organizers should ensure the availability of hand sanitisers.

“It should be mandatory for all coming for prayers to use sanitisers before entering the venue,” the guidelines said.

“To ensure social distancing protocols, venue organizers to ensure prominent marking (6 feet apart) to allow sufficient space/distance between individuals. People should be encouraged to perform abulution at home before coming for the prayers and also bring their own prayer mats to the venue. Efforts should be made to sensitise people to refrain from embracing and handshaking after the prayer to avoid chances of disease transmission. There should not be any gathering at the prayer venue before the prayer and people should be asked to disperse immediately after the prayer.”

The NCOC said efforts would be made to promote and encourage central and collective sacrifices through various public, private and community organizations, while ensuring adherence to COVID-19 protocols of mask-wearing, social distancing and avoidance of crowds.
 


Pakistan approves imports in local currency from neighboring Afghanistan

Updated 05 July 2022

Pakistan approves imports in local currency from neighboring Afghanistan

  • The move is mainly aimed at buying coal to help ease energy shortages
  • Pakistan has shortage of forex reserves to buy LNG, oil in international market 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday approved imports from neighboring Afghanistan in exchange for local currency, a move mainly aimed at buying coal to help ease an energy shortage.
The decision was taken in a meeting of Pakistan’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), a finance ministry statement said.
The ECC approved amendment in the Import Policy Order 2022 “to allow import of goods of Afghan origin against Pak Rupee” for a period of one year, it said.
The move is aimed at importing Afghan coal for Pakistan as it faces an energy crises due to a shortage of foreign reserves to buy LNG or oil in the international market to run its power plants.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced plans last week to import coal from Afghanistan using local currency to save foreign reserves.
Islamabad has already announced an easy visa regime for Afghan nationals to help facilitate trade on both sides of the border. An Afghan finance ministry spokesman did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Customs duties from coal exported to Pakistan are a key source of revenue for cash-strapped Afghanistan. Sanctions on the banking sector and the cut in development aid since the Taliban took control last August year have severely hampered its economy.
No country has officially recognized the Taliban government, which has meant international financial assistance has dried up while Afghanistan faces a humanitarian and economic crisis.
The Afghan Taliban have lately stepped up coal exports to Pakistan to generate more revenue from its mining sector in the absence of direct foreign funding.
Kabul has raised duties on sales and increased rates recently.
Pakistan has also been facing an economic crises, with foreign reserves falling as low as hardly enough for 45 days of imports.


Media watchdog demands Pakistan ensure safety as two reporters killed in two days

Updated 05 July 2022

Media watchdog demands Pakistan ensure safety as two reporters killed in two days

  • Gunmen killed Ishtiaq Sodharo of Sindhi weekly Chinag in Khairpur district in Sindh province on July 1
  • Iftikhar Ahmed from Daily Express shot dead in northwestern Pakistani district of Charsadda the next day

ISLAMABAD: The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Tuesday demanded the Pakistani government ensure the safety of journalists, days after gunmen killed two reporters within two days in two separate incidents.

Unidentified assailants killed Ishtiaq Sodharo, associated with the Sindhi weekly Chinag, in Khairpur district of the southern Sindh province on July 1. A day later, Iftikhar Ahmed, a reporter for the Daily Express, was shot dead in the northwestern Pakistani district of Charsadda. Police are investigating the motive behind Ahmed’s death, including personal enmity, while Sodharo’s wife has alleged he was killed on the orders of a local policeman. 

The IFJ condemned the murders and called on the Pakistani authorities to fulfil their international obligations under Pakistan’s constitution to safeguard press freedom.

“Pakistan’s government must take appropriate measures to ensure journalists’ safety and security, as required by law, and act to reduce assaults on journalists so that they may carry out their work without fear,” the IFJ said in a statement on its website.

Pakistan is considered a dangerous country for journalists who often have to face violence, legal cases, abductions, detentions and threats from both state and non-state actors. 

In May, the country fell 12 points on the World Press Freedom Index from 145 in 2021 to 157 in 2022.


Pakistan concludes Hajj flights, all 83,312 pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia

Updated 05 July 2022

Pakistan concludes Hajj flights, all 83,312 pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia

  • 34,453 pilgrims traveled under government scheme and over 48,000 through private operators
  • 52 flights have utilized the Route to Makkah immigration facility at Islamabad airport this year

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s director-general of Hajj in Jeddah said on Tuesday the country’s Hajj flight operation was complete and all 83,312 Pakistani pilgrims had arrived in Saudi Arabia. 

One of Islam’s five main pillars of faith, the Hajj was restricted over pandemic fears to only 1,000 people living in the Kingdom in 2020 and to 60,000 domestic participants last year, compared with the pre-pandemic 2.5 million pilgrims annually. 

This year, after Saudi Arabia lifted COVID-19 restrictions, the kingdom will welcome one million domestic and foreign pilgrims. A quota of 81,132 pilgrims was initially allocated for Pakistan this year, which was later increased by 2,000.

“Our Hajj flights have been completed and all 83,312 Pakistani pilgrims have arrived in Makkah,” DG Hajj, Abrar Ahmed Mirza, told Arab News over the phone from Makkah.

He said 34,453 pilgrims had traveled under the government scheme and over 48,000 through private operators.

“We are now giving them training on Hajj rituals which are starting from Wednesday especially preparing them for Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah where pilgrims from all over the world move at the same time,” Mirza said.

Haseeb Ahmed Siddiqui, the director of the Hajj Complex in Islamabad, said 52 flights had utilized the Route to Makkah facility at Islamabad airport this year. 

The Route to Makkah initiative allows pilgrims to fulfil all immigration requirements at the airport of origin. This saves them several hours upon reaching the kingdom since they can enter the country, having already gone through immigration at home. 

“17,077 pilgrims proceeded to the Kingdom under Route to Makkah project using 52 flights this year,” Siddiqui told Arab News.

Adeel Ahmed, a pilgrim from Rawalpindi, said he had no words to express his happiness at being selected for the pilgrimage.

“My name was not part of the first draft and I got a chance at the last moment,” Ahmed told Arab News. “I am unable to share my feelings and happiness as Allah has granted me this privilege to fulfill my dream.” 

Sumera Kiran, another pilgrim from Rawalpindi, expressed satisfaction with arrangements at the airport.

“The [Saudi] government and Pakistani authorities have done very good arrangements at the airport,” she said, adding that she had received her luggage at the hotel.


Pakistan central bank may raise rates by 125 bps to tame 13-year high inflation

Updated 05 July 2022

Pakistan central bank may raise rates by 125 bps to tame 13-year high inflation

  • The South Asian nation is wrestling with economic turmoil, a fall in reserves and a weakening currency
  • Another hike would increase government debt servicing costs as well as hurt industries, says an economist

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s central bank looks set to raise its key policy rate by 125 basis points at its review on Thursday, as it attempts to tackle 13-year high retail inflation, according to the median estimate in a snap poll of 10 economists and market watchers. 

The economists, analysts and senior professors surveyed were widely split on the quantum of increase by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), with views ranging from 50 to 200 basis points. 

Two respondents did not see a need for a rate increase. 

The central bank raised the benchmark interest rate by 150 bps in May, taking the total increase to 400 bps so far this year to counter rising inflation. 

The South Asian nation is wrestling with economic turmoil, a fall in reserves and a weakening currency. 

Data on Friday showed consumer prices in June leapt 21.3 percent from a year earlier, largely on account of a 90 percent spike in fuel prices since the end of May after the government scrapped costly fuel subsidies. 

With the current policy rate at 13.75 percent and inflation running well above, real interest rates in the economy have turned sharply negative. 

“The last monetary policy committee statement is proof that the State Bank of Pakistan is way behind the curve on anticipating inflation,” said Yousuf Nazar, an economist who writes for various publications and formerly with Citigroup. 

“Another hike would increase government debt servicing costs as well as hurt industries. 

It is not going to have much of an impact on exchange rate or overall demand,” he added. 

Most believed a hike was inevitable, given persistently high global energy prices, the abrupt ending of fuel subsidies as well as the need to control demand after SBP said in its last policy statement the economy had rebounded much more strongly than anticipated. 

“The overall policy mix is geared toward stabilization and demand management,” CEO of Macro Economic Insights Sakib Sherani said, adding that this will induce a sharp slowdown in the economy, possibly a recession, in the short run. 

But Fahad Rauf, head of research at Ismail Iqbal Securities, said he does not see the need to increase rates further. 

“The economy is already slowing down. The layoffs have started and are expected to increase further. 

Further cost pressures would only enhance the burden on industries and workers,” Rauf said. 

“The fiscal arm is working now, tough measures have been taken. SBP needs to wait for the results before further tightening,” he added. 

With Pakistan expecting a restart of the much-awaited bailout package from the International Monetary Fund after the country agreed on some tough economic policy adjustments to promote stability, the SBP’s decision is being closely watched.