Pakistani PM censures India for registering police case against late Kashmiri leader’s family

Kashmiri protesters hold images of Syed Ali Geelani, chairman of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, during a protest in Srinagar on August 27, 2016. (AFP/File)
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Updated 05 September 2021

Pakistani PM censures India for registering police case against late Kashmiri leader’s family

  • Syed Ali Geelani died after protracted illness at his residence in Srinagar on Wednesday at the age of 92
  • Geelani’s body was taken away by the Indian security forces who only allowed his close relatives to attend his funeral

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday criticized India for filing a case against the family of late Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani for raising anti-national slogans and draping his body in a Pakistani flag.
Geelani, who opposed Indian rule in Kashmir, died after protracted illness in Srinagar last Wednesday.
Police in Indian-administered Kashmir took away his body from his residence and only allowed his close relatives to attend his funeral.
Pakistan condemned the incident, saying that Indian security forces had “snatched the mortal remains of the iconic Kashmiri leader.”
“Snatching the body of the 92 year old Syed Ali Geelani, one of the most respected & principled Kashmiri [leaders], & then registering cases against his family is just another shameful example of India’s descent into fascism under the Nazi-inspired RSS-BJP [government],” Khan said in his tweet on Sunday.

Pakistan also summoned Indian Charge d’ Affaires on Friday to protest India’s handling of Geelani’s body and funeral.
The Pakistani foreign office said in a statement it had also been conveyed to the Indian diplomat that the incident was a “blatant violation of International Humanitarian Law and all tenets of civil and human rights.”

India and Pakistan drive US ticket demand for T20 World Cup

Updated 9 sec ago

India and Pakistan drive US ticket demand for T20 World Cup

  • The highly anticipated clash in New York was over-subscribed by 200 times in public ballot for tickets
  • A 34,000-seat temporary venue has yet to be completed but is already assured of a sell-out crowd

Fort Lauderdale: Organizers of June’s T20 Cricket World Cup games in the United States say that early ticket sales have shown there is a huge demand for the sport among cricket lovers in the country.

The highly anticipated clash in New York between cricket rivals Pakistan and India was over-subscribed by 200 times in the public ballot for tickets, the International Cricket Council said.

The 34,000-seat temporary venue, Nassau County International Cricket Stadium on Long Island, has yet to be completed but is already assured of a sell out crowd for the June 9 encounter.

The tournament is being co-hosted by the West Indies and the United States.

While big crowds are expected in the traditional cricket countries in the Caribbean, this will be the first time that an international tournament is held in the United States with the 16 games in the country also including matches in Lauderhill, South Florida and Grand Prairie Stadium, near Dallas.

“We had amazing ticket interest. The ballot process showed there’s a really big demand,” T20 World Cup USA, Inc. chief executive Brett Jones told AFP on Friday.

“India-Pakistan is obviously a game that at every World Cup carries great interest. I think it’s really pleasing to see those two countries come to the USA,” he added.

Powerhouses India and Pakistan will play all their group games in the USA and are sure to attract packed crowds from the diaspora living in the country.

While organizers hope that they can “convert” some Americans to the game, they are well aware that there is already huge interest among immigrant populations and their focus is on serving those fans.

“I think, number one, we want to celebrate those that are already fanatical lovers of cricket. They deserve to see the best players in the world come into their backyard and have that chance,” said Jones.

“So, number one, we want to make sure that happens and they get to feel like they’re close to a game they love. Number two, I think it’s about spiking curiosity in the game,” he said.

Americans have never fallen for the charms of cricket, preferring baseball for their bat and ball action, but the sport is set to get an unprecedented platform in the country with the T20 format, including in the Los Angeles Olympics in four year’s time.

“Obviously there’s a great runway to the Olympics in LA in 28 and then on into Brisbane in 2032 for cricket, which again will keep it in the global view and the consciousness of a big country like the US. I think we’ve got those two things working for us,” said Jones.

“We’re saying we want to reward our cricket fans and lovers of cricket in the US, which is a huge market.

“Then we want to spike curiosity and really hopefully start a bigger conversation about the game and its benefits at the community level,” he added.

Ireland, Sri Lanka, South Africa, the Netherlands, Bangladesh and Canada will also play in the USA along with the host nation themselves.

While there is no lack of interest, organizers still have plenty to do to create the facilities and infrastructure needed for a global tournament.

Lauderhill, just outside Fort Lauderdale, has already played home to international cricket matches but is undergoing significant upgrades.

Grand Prairie opened last year as the venue for the new domestic tournament, Major League Cricket, but is also being enhanced for the tournament.

“We’re still going to have a lot of work to do to make sure we can provide access to our cricket fans,” Jones said.

“We want to show people that in a sports-mad country that demands entertainment, cricket is a great entertainment product,” he added.

The tournament will start on June 1 with the USA facing Canada in Texas.

USA vice-captain Aaron Jones says he hopes the team’s performances will offer inspiration to youngsters starting out in the sport.

“We want to show everybody in the world that the USA can be a cricketing country as well and be a role model for kids coming up,” he said.

Pakistan’s stocks gain 5 percent as political uncertainty surrounding new coalition government dissipates

Updated 13 min 7 sec ago

Pakistan’s stocks gain 5 percent as political uncertainty surrounding new coalition government dissipates

  • The IMF statement expressing its willingness to work with the next government generated positive market sentiment
  • The KSE100 index gained about 900 points to close at 62,816 on Friday, as Punjab Assembly held its inaugural session

KARACHI: Pakistan’s equity market responded positively to a power-sharing agreement between two major political parties this week, as the uncertainty surrounding the formation of a new government dissipated, making the stocks close the weekend trading session with a five percent gain on Friday.
The late Tuesday night agreement to form a coalition government at the center was negotiated between Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
Together, the two political factions achieved a simple majority sufficient to form a government, though they will also embrace smaller parties in the coalition.
The benchmark KSE100 index gained 901 points or 1.5 percent to close at 62,816 on Friday, buoyed by the commencement of the new government formation process. This process began with the oath-taking ceremony during the inaugural session of the Punjab Assembly on Friday and will be followed by a Sindh Assembly session on Saturday.
“Stocks closed sharply higher after the Punjab Assembly was sworn in, easing political noise and the International Monetary Fund’s affirmation on working with the new government on policies to ensure macroeconomic stability,” Ahsan Mehanti, CEO of Arif Habib Limited, told Arab News.
Pakistani equity traders said investor confidence has increased as things are moving smoothly toward the formation of government at the federal and provincial levels.
“After the unexpected election results were announced, causing considerable anxiety among investors regarding future outcomes, the process of forming a new government has begun. This development has somewhat reassured investors,” Abdul Rauf, an equity trader, told Arab News.
Citing a statement from the IMF, Rauf said the fund seems happy with the new coalition government as both parties are experienced in dealing with it.
“PML-N and PPP will form the government together, and they have remained in power several times in the past, so they also have experience in dealing with the IMF,” he said, adding: “It seems that the IMF was quite pleased with them and expects a better outcome from them.”
Analysts believe that future market direction mainly depends on the next IMF program after the formation of the government.
“We feel that in the coming days, the IMF program will play a key role, and if the government of Pakistan quickly avails of the fund program, then the situation could substantially improve,” Sheheryar Butt, portfolio manager at Darson Securities, told Arab News.
Butt said it was predicted at the beginning of the year that the KSE100 index would cross the 76,000 level, but it still depended on how the government moved forward with the IMF program and its reform agenda.
“Pakistan is also facing an external [payment] gap, and if the external inflows continue and the privatization process is expedited, then you will see how the stock market goes up,” Butt added.
Analysts are optimistic that the current bullish sentiments will gain further momentum as the political landscape begins to stabilize with the formation of a new government expected in the coming week.

Peshawar end Multan’s PSL 2024 winning streak by snatching win in last-ball thriller

Updated 23 February 2024

Peshawar end Multan’s PSL 2024 winning streak by snatching win in last-ball thriller

  • Peshawar Zalmi’s Arif Yaqoob returned figures of 3/43 to keep Multan Sultans from chasing the 180-run target
  • With their maiden PSL 2024 win, Peshawar Zalmi have gone from bottom place on the points table to number five

ISLAMABAD: Peshawar Zalmi ended Multan Sultans’ winning streak in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) tournament on Friday by clinching a five-run victory in a closely fought contest that was decided on the last ball of the match.
Batting first, Zalmi finished with a respectable total of 179/8 at the end of the first 20 overs. None of Peshawar’s batters were able to score a half-century, with Haseebullah Khan top-scoring with 37 runs from 18 balls while skipper Babar Azam hitting 31 runs off 26 balls. Rovman Powell scored a quickfire 23 from 11 balls while Luke Wood contributed with 17 runs off 12 deliveries.
Sultan bowlers David Willey, Mohammad Ali and Usama Mir took two wickets each while Shahnawaz Dahani and Abbas Afridi only got one.
When they came to bat, the Sultans faced an early setback when skipper Muhammad Rizwan was dismissed for 0 but opening batter Yasir Khan and Reeza Hendricks contributed with 43 and 28 respectively to give the Sultans some support. Dawid Malan smashed a 25-ball 52 runs knock but after his dismissal, the Sultans buckled. Khushdil Shah, Iftikhar Ahmed and Usama Mir failed to hold on to their nerves, scoring only 5, 16, and 12 runs respectively, as Zalmi bowled out Multan for 174 runs on the last ball of the match.
Zalmi’s Arif Yaqoob returned figures of 3/43 while Salman Irshad, Naveen-ul-Haq and Luke Wood finished with figures of 2/39, 2/44 and 2/13 respectively.
“Catches win matches,” the team exclaimed on its social media account after displaying brilliant fielding performance.

With their first victory of the match, Peshawar have gone from the bottom in the PSL points table to number 5 with their latest win.


Thousands protest Pakistan Supreme Court minorities ruling

Updated 23 February 2024

Thousands protest Pakistan Supreme Court minorities ruling

  • CJP Faez Isa ordered the release of a man from Ahmadi community, considered heretical by Muslim scholars
  • Around 3,000 people gathered at protest rallies across the northwestern city of Peshawar after Friday prayers

PESHAWAR: Thousands of Pakistanis protested against the Supreme Court’s top judge on Friday, after he issued a ruling related to blasphemy that sparked online backlash and thinly veiled death threats.
A campaign targeting Supreme Court Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa began after he ordered the release of a man from the Ahmadi community, considered heretical by hard-line Muslim scholars.
The man had been accused of disseminating a forbidden Ahmadi text, which firebrand clerics consider tantamount to blasphemy — an incendiary issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where even unproven allegations of offending Islam have sparked violence.
Around 3,000 people gathered at rallies across the northwestern city of Peshawar after Friday prayers.
Crowds blocked roads and chanted “Death to Qadianis” — a slur referring to Ahmadis — as well as “Long live Islam.”
The Supreme Court issued a statement on Thursday evening defending his ruling, denying that it went against the Islamic constitution of Pakistan.
“This impression is absolutely wrong,” it said. “The organized campaign against judiciary and judges is unfortunate.”
A spokesman for Pakistan’s Ahmadi community, Amir Mahmood, told AFP that “one-sided negative propaganda is being spread against this judgment” which protected a man from “being persecuted for his religious belief.”
Isa’s ruling first went unnoticed two weeks ago, before it was highlighted by social media accounts linked to the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan party behind violent anti-blasphemy protests.
Posts calling for him to resign have been shared thousands of times on social media.
The Pakistani chapter of the Taliban militant group — known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) — called Isa “an enemy of Islam” and “a damned man.”
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said Isa’s ruling “protects the constitutional right of all religious minorities to freedom of religion or belief.”
“Those political leaders and sections of the media that are responsible for this campaign must be restrained,” the organization said on social media platform X.
Ahmadis have been discriminated against and persecuted for decades in Pakistan.
The second amendment of Pakistan’s constitution, made in 1974, declares Ahmadis non-Muslims.
The law also prohibits them from professing to be Muslims or spreading their faith, and allows the death penalty for those found guilty of insulting Islam.
In his judgment, Isa ruled that according to the constitution, “every citizen shall have the right to profess, practice and propagate his religion.”
“Freedom of faith is one of the fundamental tenets of Islam. But sadly, in matters of religion, tempers flare up and the Qur’anic mandate is forsaken,” he added.
He also said the book allegedly disseminated by the accused had not been outlawed at the time of the alleged crime in 2019.
Cleric Fazlur Rehman, the influential leader of the conservative religious party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, said Isa’s reasoning was “false and based on bad intentions.”
In 2011, the governor of eastern Punjab province was killed by his bodyguard after calling for reforms to the stringent blasphemy laws that Ahmadis frequently fall foul of.

Government greenlights construction of 80-kilometer segment of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline

Updated 23 February 2024

Government greenlights construction of 80-kilometer segment of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline

  • The pipeline will be constructed from Pakistan’s border with Iran to its port city of Gwadar in the first phase
  • The project is likely to boost the country’s energy security, strengthen local industry with enhanced gas supply

KARACHI: Pakistan decided to build an 80-kilometer segment of the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline on Friday after the Cabinet Committee on Energy approved the recommendations of a ministerial oversight committee evaluating various dimensions of the project after it was constituted by Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar last September.
Originally intended to supply gas from Iran to both Pakistan and neighboring India, the project was referred to as the IPI pipeline. However, India later withdrew from the project over concerns related to pricing and security, leading to the current designation as the IP gas pipeline.
The project remained stalled for a significantly long period since it could potentially create problems for Pakistan due to the international sanctions targeting Iran.
The United States, in particular, expressed opposition to the project, and there had been concerns that Pakistan could face economic sanctions if it proceeded with it.
“The [Cabinet] Committee [on Energy] recommended to start work on the 80 km segment of the pipeline inside Pakistan i.e. from Pakistan border up till Gwadar in the first phase,” said an official statement circulated by the Petroleum Division of Energy Ministry. “The Project will be executed by Inter State Gas Systems (Pvt) Ltd. and will be funded through Gas Infrastructure Development Cess.”
“All the concerned divisions gave a positive nod to move ahead with the project to ensure gas supplies to the people of Pakistan, thereby addressing the increasing energy needs of the country,” the statement added.
The project is expected to boost the country’s energy security and strengthen the local industry that can be assured sustainable and enhanced gas supplies.
The construction of the IP pipeline is also expected to catalyze the economic activity in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province and which can positively impact the national economy.