PSL to bring more revenue, improve Pakistan's global image — business leaders

A paramilitary soldier patrols next to cutouts of cricket players displaying outside the National Stadium for the upcoming country's premier domestic Twenty20 tournament 'Pakistan Super League' in Karachi, Pakistan, on January 25, 2022. (AP)
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Updated 28 January 2022
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PSL to bring more revenue, improve Pakistan's global image — business leaders

  • The Pakistan Cricket Board says 95 percent revenue from the tournament will be distributed among six franchises
  • The country’s business community sees the event as an opportunity to display improved trade and security environment in Pakistan

KARACHI: The seventh edition of HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) tournament is expected to create huge income opportunities for franchises, enrich the country’s global perception and address international security concerns, said officials and business leaders on Thursday.
According to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), HBL PSL has 80 million viewers who have turned the Twenty20 cricket series into a major success. The tournament also draws significant corporate sponsorships from multinational firms and has led to a steady increase in the income of franchises.
Six teams are participating in the month-long event which kicked off at the National Stadium Karachi on Thursday.
“There is a substantial increase in the purchase of commercial rights of the event,” Sami Ul Hasan Burney, director media and communication at the PCB, told Arab News.
“The financial model is that 95 percent of the total revenue is distributed among franchisees and only five percent comes to the PCB after all expenses,” he added while providing details of the new business arrangement that was adopted with consensus by all stakeholders in October 2021.
Under the agreed model, PSL franchises will also be entitled to an additional 98 percent share of the profit from the central revenue pool as COVID-19 relief for PSL-5 and PSL-6.
Previously, they were getting about 85 to 90 percent of the revenue.
The major sources of revenue generation for the event are advertainments, airing rights auction, and title sponsorship.
“The revenue is collected by the PCB,” Burney said. “Media rights, title sponsorship, ground signage are the major revenue sources. This is all negotiated and finalized by the PCB and done in the presence of the representatives of the franchisees.”
The PCB has auctioned the PSL TV Broadcast media rights for 2022-2023 for over Rs4.35 billion – or approximately $24.6 million – which were awarded to a consortium comprising ARY and state-owned Pakistan Television (PTV).
Title sponsorship is another revenue generation source which is retained by the country’s largest bank, Habib Bank Limited (HBL), until 2025.
“HBL not only exceeded the reserve price in reacquiring the rights but sealed it with a 55 percent jump from last cycle, which speaks volumes of their belief in the PSL brand,” said a recent statement issued by the PCB.
Though the official amount of the title sponsorship is not disclosed, media reports claim it stands at $22.2 million, up from $14.5 million that were signed for 2019-2021 events.
HBL officials say their priority is to promote sports in the country instead of pursuing their commercial interests.
“The development of youth in Pakistan is a generational benefit HBL seeks from the tournament,” Ali Habib, the bank’s chief marketing and communications officer, told Arab News.
Pakistani business leaders said the event was more of a perception building process to create the country’s positive image at the world stage.
“The event signals that business and security environment of the country is normal, not only for us but also for international trade requiring the participation of foreign players,” Mian Nasser Hyatt Maggo, president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), told Arab News.
“Foreign importers will be more comfortable to visit Pakistan and play greater role in our export promotion due to improving perception of the country,” the FPCCI chief said, adding: “The T20 series also helps local companies grow their businesses and strengthens domestic advertising business.”
Sports analysts said the event mobilizes billion of rupees through commercial activities, adding it was also indispensable for the country’s international image and advancing its domestic economic interests.
“The commercial value of the event is in billions of rupees which also explains why the tournament has become so popular,” senior sports analyst Qamar Ahmed commented. “The major chunk of the revenue has already been collected through sales of title sponsorship and media rights.”
According to the PCB annual report, the organization earned a profit of Rs3.8 billion in fiscal year ending in June 2020 from various sources including tours and tournaments. The total income of the board was Rs9.3 billion while it incurred Rs5 billion in various expenditures.


Pakistan’s PM criticizes Imran Khan’s ‘irresponsible’ demand for election audit in IMF bailout letter

Updated 29 February 2024
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Pakistan’s PM criticizes Imran Khan’s ‘irresponsible’ demand for election audit in IMF bailout letter

  • Prime Minister Kakar says there are proper forums in the country for the redressal of any election grievances
  • He says the letter has contradicted PTI’s own narrative that maintains Pakistan should not ‘surrender’ to the West

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on Wednesday described Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party’s decision to send a letter to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), asking it to ensure election audit before any discussion on financial bailouts for the country, as “highly irresponsible” and in contradiction to its overall political narrative.

Last week, a group of lawyers representing the PTI founding leader, Imran Khan, said he wanted to send a letter to the IMF after raising the allegations of rigging in the recent general elections in the country earlier this month.

The party revealed on Wednesday it had dispatched the letter to the international lending organization, asking it to link any financing for Pakistan to “good governance” and the audit of at least 30 national and provincial assembly seats.

Kakar expressed his displeasure over the development during an interview with a local news channel.

“This is highly irresponsible,” he told Samaa TV. “And I am making a very mild statement. Otherwise, one can use much harsher words in response to this.”

“In the caretaker government, the biggest challenge we faced was not only conducting elections but also to the revival of the economy, improvement in financial indicators and achieving our revenue targets,” he continued. “To an extent, we have met [all these objectives]. As a result, the IMF is negotiating with Pakistan positively.”

He said the country was now expecting a $6 billion deal with the international lender and could also get $2 billion more in climate finance deal.

The prime minister noted this was vital for the country’s economic health, adding that the financial plans of the future government also depended heavily on this.

“Whatever your views are regarding the electoral process, there are proper forums to express them,” he continued. “They are not the IMF.”

Kakar said the PTI leadership’s letter had also contradicted its own narrative which required the country not to “surrender” to Western power.

He maintained that Khan’s party had gone against that by seeking external intervention in the country.

However, predicted the letter would not have any major impact on Pakistan, though it would have a political cost for the PTI.

The IMF already refused to comment on the “ongoing political developments” in the country, saying it was willing to work with the new government.


Pakistani security forces kill six militants in intelligence-based operation in northwest

Updated 29 February 2024
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Pakistani security forces kill six militants in intelligence-based operation in northwest

  • An official statement says the militants were involved in violent activities against North Waziristan’s residents
  • The Pakistani security forces also recovered weapons, ammunition and explosives from the dead militants

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s security forces killed six militants in an intelligence-based operation (IBO) in the country’s northwest on Wednesday, saying they were involved in violent activities against the civilian population in the area.

Pakistan has witnessed an uptick in militant activities since Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a proscribed conglomerate of armed factions, called off a fragile ceasefire with the government in November 2022.

The violence has largely been confined to the western provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan that share frontier with the neighboring state of Afghanistan.

The country’s security forces and law enforcement agencies have carried out several operations in recent months to deal with militants in places like North Waziristan where the recent engagement with the militants took place.

“During the conduct of operation, intense fire exchange took place between own troops and the terrorists,” the military’s media wing, ISPR, said in a statement, adding that this led to the killing of six militants.

“Weapons, ammunition and explosives were also recovered from the killed terrorists, who remained actively involved in numerous terrorist activities including target killing as well as extortion & abduction of innocent civilians,” it added.

The ISPR said one of the Pakistani soldiers who participated in the operation also got injured.

It informed the Pakistani forces started a “sanitization operation” to find other militants who might have taken refuge in the area.

Pakistan’s North Waziristan district was once described as the hub of militancy before the government launched a clear-and-hold military operation to reclaim the territory.


US urges new Pakistan government to prioritize economy, continue working with IMF on reforms 

Updated 29 February 2024
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US urges new Pakistan government to prioritize economy, continue working with IMF on reforms 

  • The US says it supports Pakistan’s efforts to break free from the vicious cycle of debt and international financing
  • Analysts believe government will have to negotiate another IMF loan program amid continuing economic challenges

ISLAMABAD: The United States said on Wednesday Pakistan’s new government should address the economic situation facing the country on priority, emphasizing it was important for the emerging administration in Islamabad to continue engagements with international financial institutions.

Pakistan is holding the first National Assembly today, Thursday, in which the newly elected lawmakers will take oath. The country’s new government is expected to take the reins of power within the next few days after the in-house election of the next prime minister.

The issue of Pakistan’s economy came up for discussion during a regular State Department briefing after a journalist asked about a letter written by former premier Imran Khan’s party to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), asking it to link the next loan facility to “good governance” in the country.

“I’ll just say with respect to the IMF that we support Pakistan’s efforts to break free from the vicious cycle of debt and international financing,” Spokesperson Matthew Miller said. “The long-term health of Pakistan’s government – or economy is crucial to its stability.”

“Pakistan’s new government must immediately prioritize the economic situation because the policies over the next several months will be crucial to maintaining economic stability for Pakistanis,” he added. “And we urge Pakistan to continue working with the IMF and other international financial institutions toward macroeconomic reforms.”

Pakistan has been facing significant financial challenges in recent years, with dwindling foreign exchange reserves and declining value of its national currency.

The country’s caretaker administration negotiated a $3 billion, short-term loan facility with the IMF that is scheduled to expire in March.

Pakistan’s economic challenges persist, prompting many analysts to point out it will continue to need external financing from the international lending agency.
 


Pakistan’s National Assembly convenes as Imran Khan-backed MNAs protest vote result

Updated 29 February 2024
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Pakistan’s National Assembly convenes as Imran Khan-backed MNAs protest vote result

  • PML-N’s 79 and PPP’s 54 seats together make a simple majority in parliament to form a government
  • Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf won 93 seats but does not have the numbers to form a government

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s National Assembly convened for its first session on Thursday, with opposition lawmakers continuing to protest the results of a general election on Feb. 8 that has been widely marred by allegations of rigging. 

The agreement between Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of three-time Premier Nawaz Sharif on Feb. 20 ended days of uncertainty and negotiations after an inconclusive election threw up a hung National Assembly. 

PML-N’s 79 and the PPP’s 54 seats together make a simple majority in parliament to form a government, and they have also roped in smaller parties in the coalition. Candidates backed by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) won 93 seats, but do not have the numbers to form a government. He and his party have rejected the results of the elections, alleging widespread rigging, which the election commission has denied.

Thursday’s session started with ruckus as soon as the national anthem ended and Khan-backed lawmakers, who have joined the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), surrounded the speaker’s podium.

“Who will save Pakistan? Imran Khan! Imran Khan!” PTI lawmakers chanted after the oath taking and as newly elected MNAs signed the NA register roll. 

The coalition alliance has announced Shehbaz Sharif, the brother of three-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, as its PM candidate. Shehbaz is himself a former premier and replaced Khan when he was ousted through a no-confidence vote in parliament in 2022. Since then, Khan has been convicted of several offenses in what his supporters call politically motivated moves to keep him out of office. 

The coalition alliance is backing former President Asif Ali Zardari of the PPP as their joint candidate for president when the new parliament and all the four provincial legislatures elect the successor of the outgoing President Arif Ali, a close Khan ally, in the coming weeks.

Shehbaz will take over the country at the time when the new government would need to take tough decisions to steer the country out of financial crisis, including negotiating a new bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund/ The current IMF program expires in March. A new program will mean committing to steps needed to stay on a narrow path to recovery, but which will limit policy options to provide relief to a deeply frustrated population and cater to industries that are looking for government support to spur growth.

Other big moves include privatization of loss-making state owned enterprises such as the flagship carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

Pakistan is also facing a troubling rise in militancy, which any new government will have to tackle. Lowering political temperatures will also be a key challenge as Khan maintains mass popular support in Pakistan, and a continued crackdown on his party and his remaining in jail would likely stoke tensions at a time when stability is needed to attract foreign investment to shore up the economy.


Two Pakistanis charged over calls for Dutch far-right leader’s killing

Updated 29 February 2024
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Two Pakistanis charged over calls for Dutch far-right leader’s killing

  • The Netherlands and Pakistan do not have an extradition treaty, leaving prospects for a trial unclear
  • A Dutch court says the Pakistanis were suspected of publicly calling on people to kill Geert Wilders

AMSTERDAM: A Dutch court said it had charged two Pakistani nationals on Wednesday over public calls for the murder of far-right anti-Muslim leader Geert Wilders, who aims to lead a new government after his party won elections in November.

In a statement on Wednesday, the court said prosecutors had asked authorities in Pakistan to extradite the two suspects – aged 55 and 29 – to stand trial in the Netherlands.

It said the two Pakistanis were suspected of publicly calling on people to kill Wilders and promising them a reward in the afterlife if they did so. It did not say how those calls were made.

In September, a Dutch court sentenced a Pakistani former cricketer to 12 years in prison after he was tried in absentia for publicly urging people to kill Wilders.

“I hope they (two suspects) will be extradited, convicted and jailed!” Wilders wrote in a post on X.

The court scheduled its first hearing on the case for Sept. 2. The Netherlands and Pakistan do not have an extradition treaty, leaving prospects for a trial unclear.