‘Ripples of excitement,’ Rizwan says as Pakistan ready to welcome Australia

Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan celebrates after scoring a half-century (50 runs) during the third Twenty20 international cricket match between Pakistan and West Indies at the National Stadium in Karachi on December 16, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 20 January 2022

‘Ripples of excitement,’ Rizwan says as Pakistan ready to welcome Australia

  • Australia are scheduled to play a full cricket series in Pakistan for the first time in 24 years in March-April
  • Star wicketkeeper-batter says the two teams make ‘perfect recipe’ for a thrilling and exciting series

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s star wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan said on Thursday he is already feeling “ripples of excitement” ahead of Australia’s upcoming tour of Pakistan.

Australia are scheduled to play three Test matches, an equal number of ODIs and a T20I match on Pakistani soil in March-April this year. Fans in both countries are ecstatic and cannot wait for the series to get underway as an Australian cricket team will arrive in Pakistan for the first time in 24 years. 

International cricket has largely remained away from Pakistan since the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked in Lahore in 2009. While Pakistan’s security situation improved over the years, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has remained unsuccessful in wooing big teams to play a complete series on its soil. 

“I can feel ripples of excitement for Australia’s tour of Pakistan,” Rizwan said in an interview with the PCB’s digital wing.

“I have read some very positive remarks from the stakeholders in Australia about the tour to Pakistan. The entire nation of Pakistan is ready to welcome Australia for the historic tour after 24 years.”

Recognized by the PCB as Pakistan’s Most Valuable Cricketer of 2021, Rizwan said the tour will help strengthen the bond between the two nations. 

“Australian cricketers like Usman Khawaja participate in the HBL PSL,” he said.
 
“Our players (Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf and Mohammad Hasnain) were recently featured in the KFC Big Bash League 2021-22. This further strengthens the bond between the two countries.”

Rizwan recalled how Pakistan’s former batting consultant, Australian cricketer

Matthew Hayden, spoke passionately about Pakistan and how his friend and Australia’s head coach Justin Langer showed “love and admiration” for the country when the two sides met last year in the ICC T20 World Cup semifinal. 

He was wary, however, about the potential of the Australian cricket team, after it won the Ashes, a Test cricket series with England.

“Australia have recently won the Ashes and they are a strong side, but we have also had a tremendous year and have shined brightly across all formats,” he said. “These two teams make the perfect recipe for a thrilling and exciting series.”


Punjab police probe ‘honor killing’ of Pakistani-Spanish sisters

Updated 17 sec ago

Punjab police probe ‘honor killing’ of Pakistani-Spanish sisters

  • Police say women were seeking separation from husbands, family lured them back to Pakistan
  • Hundreds of women are killed each year in Pakistan over perceived damage to “honor”

ISLAMABAD: Punjab police said on Saturday they were investigating the deaths of two Pakistani-Spanish sisters in an apparent honor killing.

Hundreds of women are killed each year in Pakistan, mostly by family members, over perceived damage to “honor” that can involve eloping, fraternizing with men, or seeking separation from their husbands.

There were more than 450 honor killings last year, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Aneesa Abbas, 24, and Arooj Abbas, 21, were found strangled with deadly gunshot wounds in Gujrat, Punjab province.

“Inspector-General (IG) Punjab has directed Gujarat Police to arrest the culprits involved in this tragic incident as soon as possible,” Punjab Police said on Twitter, citing a post saying that the women were killed by their in-laws for demanding divorce from their husbands after forced marriage.

Gujrat Police spokesperson Nauman Hassan told AFP victims’ family made up a story to convince them to come to Pakistan for a couple of days.

“Preliminary investigations show this is a case of honor killing, but it is still developing and the investigation is ongoing,” he said.

Police said the women were being pressurized by their husbands, who were also their cousins, to help them immigrate to Spain.

Seven members of the family are currently wanted for murder.  


Southern Pakistan bans drones over fear of attacks on foreign missions

Updated 31 min 26 sec ago

Southern Pakistan bans drones over fear of attacks on foreign missions

  • Series of deadly attacks, including on Chinese nationals, shook Karachi in past three weeks
  • Additional personnel deployed to secure consulates in the city

KARACHI: The government of Sindh has banned the use of drones and strengthened security of foreign missions following a threat alert in the southern Pakistani province, police said on Saturday.

The capital of Sindh, Karachi, came under a series of deadly attacks, including on Chinese nationals, in the past three weeks.

On April 26, a female suicide bomber killed Chinese teachers and their Pakistani driver at Karachi University. On May 12, the Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army (SRA), a dissident faction fighting for independence in the province of Sindh, killed one and injured seven in a bomb blast in downtown Saddar area of the city. On May 16, one person was killed and 11 injured when a bomb ripped through a market near New Memon Masjid in Karachi’s busy Kharadar area.

On Friday, the province’s home department issued a notification banning the flying of drones, as it said that “the terrorist may use low flying drone/unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to target foreign Missions, residences of diplomats and important government buildings.”

Senior Superintendent of Police Arif Aziz, spokesperson of Karachi police, told Arab News the law enforcement agency had also increased the number of security personnel outside foreign diplomatic missions.

“The security of consulates in Karachi has been tightened by deploying additional force,” he said, adding that there was a security alert for the entire city, and Special Security Unit and Rapid Response Force teams were on standby in every zone.

“In the past few weeks there had been a couple of attacks, and to stop such acts in future, a huge deployment of plain-clothes officers has also been made,” he added. “These will keep an eye and will be in touch with uniformed officers who will act upon receiving alerts.”


Court extends Pakistan PM’s bail in money-laundering case

Updated 21 May 2022

Court extends Pakistan PM’s bail in money-laundering case

  • FIA special court in Lahore adjourns hearing in the $80 million case until May 28
  • Sharif and his sons were booked by Federal Investigation Agency in November 2020

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani court on Saturday extended bail for Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son in a Rs16 billion ($80 million) money laundering case.

Sharif, his sons Hamza, who is chief minister of Punjab province, and Suleman, who resides in London, were booked by Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in November 2020 under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Anti Money Laundering Act.

They were set to be indicted in the case in the previous hearing on May 14 but it was delayed because the prime minister was in the UK and postponed his return to the country in order to visit the UAE to offer condolences over the death of its ailing president.

Sharif and Hamza appeared before the FIA special court in Lahore for the first time since assuming office in April.

While the presiding judge adjourned the hearing and extended their bail until May 28, he issued bailable arrest warrants for three other accused in the case, including Suleman, who did not appear in court.

The prime minister said during the hearing that the case against him was “political,” Dawn daily reported.

“Shehbaz, while speaking in the court, said that the United Kingdom's National Crime Agency (NCA) had conducted an investigation for nearly two years but could not find ‘even one rupee of corruption’ against him.”

He added that the NCA was asked by the former Pakistani government to probe him.

Sharif, who became prime minister last month after his immediate predecessor, Imran Khan, was ousted in a no-confidence vote. 

He is the president of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party and the younger brother of PMLN-N supremo Nawaz Sharif — three-time prime minister who was barred by the Supreme Court in 2017 from holding public office and went abroad on medical bail after serving a few months of a 10-year jail corruption sentence.

The Sharifs have always said the cases against them are politically motivated and driven by now ex-PM Khan who won power in 2018 vowing to root out corruption among what he cast as a venal political elite.


Close ex-PM Khan aide, former rights minister Shireen Mazari arrested in Islamabad — family

Updated 21 May 2022

Close ex-PM Khan aide, former rights minister Shireen Mazari arrested in Islamabad — family

  • Officials of the Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment tell local media Mazari in custody
  • Members of Khan's PTI party condemn arrest, urge supporters to gather in protest

ISLAMABAD: Former human rights minister Shireen Mazari was "beaten and taken away by male police officers," her daughter said on Saturday, while anti-corruption police in Punjab province told local media the close aide of ex-Prime Minister Khan was in custody.

Local media widely reported that Mazari, who was human rights minister from August 2018 till April 10, 2022, was arrested from outside her residence in Islamabad.

Mazari has recently been highly critical of Pakistan's all-powerful army, writing in daily social media posts about the military's alleged role in last month's ouster of Khan in a no-confidence vote. The army has repeatedly said it does not interfere in politics and urged media and political figures in at least two recent press releases not to drag the military into "political discourse."

"Male police officers have beaten and taken my mother away," Mazari's daughter, Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir, said on Twitter. "All I have been told is that Anti-Corruption Wing Lahore has taken her."

 

 

Officials of the Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) confirmed to the Dawn daily that Mazari had been taken into custody.

In a video posted on Twitter by journalist Asma Shirazi, Mazari-Hazir said she did not have any details of the case except that her mother was picked up by "vagabonds."

"I warn this government: I will come after them if they do this," she said.

 

 

Mazari's arrest comes at a time when ex-PM Khan's party is gearing up for an anti-government march to Islamabad to force the new government of PM Shehbaz Sharif to announce fresh election.

Khan, who last month became the first Pakistani prime minister to be ousted through a no-confidence vote, has blamed his removal on the United States. US officials have repeatedly denied the allegation. Khan and his supporters have also expressed resentment that the army did not block the opposition's bid to oust him.

Members of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party condemned Mazari's arrest and alleged manhandling by police.

"Strongly condemn the illegal and brutal kidnapping of Dr Shireen Mazari. She was manhandled and mistreated which is shameful," former education minister Shafqat Mehmood said on Twitter.

"There will [be] protest against this arrest in Lahore. Everyone to reach liberty roundabout at 8."

Shahbaz Gill, a Khan advisor, urged party workers to gather at the Kohsar police station in Islamabad.

"Shireen Mazari is a brave daughter of this nation. As a professor, most of the senior officers of our forces are her students. She has been teaching them," Gill said.

"She is highly respected for her human rights services. The final phase has begun. God willing, truth and freedom will succeed."


Pakistan president asks PM to reconsider advice to appoint new Punjab governor 

Updated 21 May 2022

Pakistan president asks PM to reconsider advice to appoint new Punjab governor 

  • Earlier this month, President Alvi rejected PM Sharif’s advice to remove key Imran Khan ally as governor 
  • Punjab chief minister’s fate also hangs in balance as electoral body de-seats 25 provincial lawmakers 

ISLAMABAD: President Arif Alvi on Saturday conveyed to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to reconsider his advice to appoint a new governor of Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province, saying Omar Sarfraz Cheema “still holds the office of the governor and there is no occasion to propose a new appointment,” the president’s office said.

Cheema, a member of ex-PM Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, was appointed Punjab governor last month amid a no-confidence motion filed against Khan in parliament, which saw many of his allies, including then governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar, jumping ship and joining the opposition. Khan was subsequently ousted from office in the no-trust vote and Sharif appointed the new PM by parliament.

In early May, the Sharif-led government sent a summary to the president, also a close Khan aide, to remove Cheema, nominating a senior ruling party leader Baligh-ur-Rehman as his replacement.

President Alvi had on May 9 rejected the summary of the prime minister, but Cheema was removed from the post the same day, with a Cabinet Division notification stating he had ceased to hold the office on the advice of PM Sharif sent to the president on two occasions.

“Referring to President’s Secretariat’s earlier communication, dated May 09, 2022, the President reiterated that ‘the Governor shall hold office during the pleasure of the President,’ as envisaged by Article 101 (2) of the Constitution,” a statement from the president’s office said.

“He added that the present circumstances demanded that the incumbent Governor should continue to hold that position.”

A governor in Pakistan is the appointed head of state of a province. He or she is appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister and can serve for a tenure that lasts up to five years.

The president made a reference to the Punjab governor’s letter, dated April 23, and a May 4 report, which highlighted that the change in loyalties of the members of the Punjab Assembly during the election of the Punjab chief minister and cobbling of the majority by “illegal means had generated serious governance issues in the province as well as violated the Article 63-A of the Constitution.”

President Alvi said the principled stance of the governor had been vindicated by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The top court on May 17 ruled that dissident lawmakers of a party could not cast their vote as it interpreted Article 63-A of the constitution, which relates to the disqualification of parliamentarians for voting, or abstaining from voting, against the party guidelines.

President Alvi said the stance of Governor Cheema was further augmented by the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision, declaring the defection of 25 provincial lawmakers in the election of chief minister as the “worst form of betraying the electorate and party’s policy.”

The ECP on Friday de-seated 25 dissident legislators belonging to Khan’s party, who had defected and voted for opposition candidate Hamza Shehbaz in the election for the Punjab chief minister’s slot last month.

With these 25 lawmakers no longer members of the House, Shehbaz, who won the April 16 election for the chief minister, has lost his majority in the Punjab Assembly, raising questions about the status of his government.

“In view of the above-mentioned facts, the president asked the prime minister to reconsider his advice with regard to the appointment of a new Governor Punjab in accordance with Article 48 (1) of the Constitution,” the statement from the president’s office added.