McCullum wants England to play aggressively in Pakistan

England's head coach Brendon McCullum walks on the pitch ahead of play on the fourth day of the third Test cricket match between England and South Africa at The Oval, in London, on September 11, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 29 November 2022

McCullum wants England to play aggressively in Pakistan

  • Under McCullum, England showed plenty of aggression in Test cricket at home this summer
  • Visitors have plenty of flare in middle-order with the likes of Stokes, Livingstone and Brook

RAWALPINDI: England coach Brendon McCullum aims to continue playing an aggressive brand of test cricket when his team takes on Pakistan in a three-test series starting Thursday.

Under McCullum, England showed plenty of aggression in the longer format of the game at home this summer when it routed coach’s home country New Zealand 3-0 and beat South Africa 2-1.

“One of the things we try and do is respect the conditions but at the same time if we are given the opportunity to try and play aggressive and attacking cricket, we’ll try and take that option,” McCullum told reporters on Monday as England had its first training session at the Pindi Cricket Stadium — the venue for the first test.

“The guys who are in our squad, that’s how they play their cricket and that’s what gives them the most amount of freedom and the best opportunity to perform at the highest level.”

England has plenty of flare in its middle-order with the likes of captain Ben Stokes, Liam Livingstone and Harry Brook to score at a rapid pace with experienced Joe Root also showing glimpses of aggression at home in this summer.

McCullum was excited that his team will be taking up the challenge of playing in Pakistan for the first time since 2005. Only veteran James Anderson has experience of the conditions when he toured with the team 17 years ago.

“We understand the size of the challenge in front of us,” he said. “You don’t want easy challenges. You want to take on the best in their own conditions … I don’t know if we’re going to win the series. I can almost guarantee when the skipper comes in here in 48 hours’ time he’ll say there’ll be no draws in the series.

“To win away from home is the greatest accomplishment you can achieve as a test player and as a test side.”

The opener at Rawalpindi will be followed by matches at Multan (Dec. 9-13) and Karachi (Dec. 17-21), with big crowds expected for each. England drew large crowds for a seven-match series in Karachi and Lahore in September and October prior to the T20 World Cup in Australia, where it beat Pakistan in the final.

“That’s what we want from red-ball cricket all around the world, stadiums packed out and fans getting behind their local team,” McCullum said.

“We’re lucky that the crowd here is sold out and that’s kind of what we want. The skipper (Stokes) wants them to be rockstars and to be a rockstar you’ve got to play in front of the big houses. We’ve got that opportunity to do that.”

The home team will be without its key fast bowler Shaheen Afridi, who is ruled out of the series because of a knee injury, but McCullum said Pakistan still has plenty of talented players.

“He’s (Afridi) a big loss, no doubt,” McCullum said. “But one thing when you play against Pakistan, you look at their team sheet and you see talent. It’s a very good Pakistan squad, it’s well-rounded, it’s got some experience and some youth, with both batting and bowling, and they’ll be a tough challenge. We know we’ll have to play well if we’re going to be successful.”

Pakistan has plenty of surprises up in its sleeves, especially in the bowling department as it has named uncapped fast bowlers Haris Rauf, Mohammad Ali and mystery spinner Abrar Ahmed in its 18-man squad for the test series.


Pakistan's PM says IMF 'scrutinizing' every book amid loan negotiations

Updated 14 sec ago

Pakistan's PM says IMF 'scrutinizing' every book amid loan negotiations

  • An IMF mission is currently in Pakistan to discuss reviving a stalled loan program
  • PM calls for forging unity among ranks, ushering in economic and political stability

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif admitted on Sunday that Pakistan was facing “too many financial challenges" with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission “scrutinizing each and every book” to ascertain whether the country has met its conditions to revive a stalled $7 billion loan program or not. 

Pakistan, in the throes of a dire economic crisis, currently has foreign exchange reserves below $3 billion, barely enough to cover eighteen days of imports. The South Asian country is struggling to bring down decades-high inflation and strengthen its national currency, which has depreciated to a historic low against the US dollar in recent days.

To mitigate the situation and save the country from default, Pakistan is desperately looking for external financing. Islamabad is holding talks with the IMF, whose mission arrived in the country last month, to discuss the resumption of a stalled loan program.

The premier, while addressing a special session of Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s Legislative Assembly to mark the “Kashmir Solidarity Day”, said the global money lender is critically analyzing every aspect of the country’s economic performance to release the much-awaited loan.

“We are facing too many financial challenges at the moment,” he said. “The IMF’s mission, which is in Islamabad right now, is scrutinizing each and every book, whether it is related to finance, petroleum, commerce, or the power sector.”

The premier added that the lender was looking at “each and everything” which included all subsidies, to make sure its conditions are being met.

He said Pakistan has to survive but begging before other nations or financial bodies was not the way to go about it. 

“This matter [seeking IMF’s help] has been going on for 75 years, but we have to draw a line at some point to stop this from happening,” he said. Sharif called for unity to tackle national challenges. 

“It can only happen if the entire nation unites to fight against inflation and depend on their own resources,” he continued, acknowledging that achieving such goals was easier said than done.

PM Sharif also stressed unity among all political parties so that the country’s economy could be strengthened, and it could continue to be in a position to support the people of Kashmir in attaining their right to self-determination.

India and Pakistan have fought several wars over Kashmir since their independence in August 1947.  The two countries claim the region in full but control only parts of it. Relations between the two countries had always remained tumultuous, but they worsened in 2019 after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi abrogated Kashmir’s special status.

On February 5 each year, Pakistan expresses solidarity with the people of Kashmir. Islamabad has long accused India of committing atrocities against the people of the disputed valley and denying them the right to self-determination. New Delhi rejects the allegations and accuses Islamabad of funding militants in the region. 

“As the prime minister of allied parties and representative of 220 million Pakistani people, I fully assured [our] Kashmiri brethren that we would continue our support for their due right of self-determination,” he said. “But first, we have to forge unity among our ranks, besides, bringing economic and political stability."

“[For that] politicians should strive to make Pakistan economically stronger.”


Quetta Gladiators edge out Peshawar Zalmi in exhibition match at home venue

Updated 05 February 2023

Quetta Gladiators edge out Peshawar Zalmi in exhibition match at home venue

  • Peshawar Zalmi take on Quetta Gladiators at Nawab Akbar Bugti Cricket Stadium
  • Quetta's Iftikhar Ahmed scores 94 from 50 balls, Mohammad Hasnain takes three wickets

ISLAMABAD: Sarfaraz Ahmed's Quetta Gladiators on Sunday defeated Peshawar Zalmi by three runs in a last-ball thriller in a Pakistan Super League (PSL) exhibition match at Quetta's Nawab Akbar Bugti Cricket Stadium.

Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's impoverished southwestern Balochistan province, has not seen a cricket match in several years owing to the province's precarious security situation. Separatist groups, who demand independence from Pakistan, have mounted attacks on the country's security forces in recent weeks. 

Thousand of cricket fans watched the action live as Pakistan captain Babar Azam donned the yellow colors of the Peshawar Zalmi for the first time and led the franchise against Sarfaraz Ahmed's Quetta Gladiators. 

Set a target to chase 185 runs, the Gladiators managed to score an impressive 181-7 and needed four runs off the last ball before Naseem Shah was able to steal the match away with a dot ball. 

"It was one cracker of a game," Quetta Gladiators wrote on Twitter. "This victory is for our fans," it added. 

 

 

 

Batting first, the Gladiators' impressive performance was spearheaded by middle-order batter Iftikhar Ahmed, who remained unbeaten on 94 from 50 balls while Abdul Wahid Bangalzai scored 28 runs from 19 balls. 

The highlight of the match was the last over of the Gladiators' innings when Ahmed hit Wahab Riaz for six sixes. Riaz proved to be the pick of the Zalmi bowlers though, finishing with figures of 3/47 at the end. 

For Zalmi, Muhammad Haris smashed 53 off 35 balls while Shahid Afridi scored 25 from 17 balls. Muhammad Hasnain ended up with figures of 3/30 while Ahmed also performed well with the ball, taking two wickets. 

The PSL, Pakistan's own professional cricket league, will see its eighth edition kick off from February 13 when defending champions Lahore Qalandars take on the Multan Sultans in Multan. The PSL, arguably Pakistan's biggest sports event, will see cricket action in Karachi, Multan, Lahore, and Rawalpindi before it concludes on March 19. 

PLAYING XI

Quetta Gladiators: Sarfaraz Ahmed (c), Ahsan Ali, Bismillah Khan, Umar Akmal, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Aimal Khan, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Hasnain, Umaid Asif, Abdul Wahid Bangalzai

Peshawar Zalmi: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Haris, Saim Ayub, Haseebullah, Azam Khan, Aamir Jamal, Usama Mir, Shahid Afridi, Wahab Riaz, Salman Irshad


Former Pakistan military ruler Pervez Musharraf dies in Dubai after years in exile

Updated 30 min 26 sec ago

Former Pakistan military ruler Pervez Musharraf dies in Dubai after years in exile

  • Ex-military dictator was under treatment at a Dubai hospital for amyloidosis, a rare disease
  • Musharraf seized power in a bloodless 1999 coup and ruled Pakistan until 2008

ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistani president and army chief, General (retired) Pervez Musharraf, passed away in Dubai, close family associates confirmed, after years of self-imposed exile in the United Arab Emirates.

Musharraf, 79, was under treatment at a Dubai hospital for amyloidosis, a rare disease, a former close aide of the military ruler and chairman of his All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) party, Dr. Amjad Chaudhry, said.

Chaudhry said the former president had been "seriously sick since 2018." 

"When I last talked to his family about a week back, he was serious and hospitalized,” he added.

“I am in contact with the family for the repatriation of the mortal remains of the former president,” another close aide of the former general, Major General (retired) Rashid Qureshi, told Arab News.

The Pakistani army, navy, and air chiefs and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee (CJCSC) condoled Musharraf's death in a statement to the press.

“CJCSC & Services Chiefs express heartfelt condolences on the sad demise of General Pervez Musharraf,” the statement said. “May Allah bless the departed soul and give strength to the bereaved family.”

A general view of the exterior of the American Hospital Dubai, where former Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf is believed to have died, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), on February 5, 2023. (REUTERS)

Musharraf, the son of a career diplomat, was born in New Delhi in 1943 and migrated to the newly independent Pakistan with his family in 1947. Musharraf joined the army in 1964 and graduated from the Army Command and Staff College in Quetta. He also attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in London and has fought in Pakistan’s 1965 and 1971 wneighboringneighbouring India.

After holding a number of appointments in the army's artillery, infantry, and commando units, Musharraf was appointed army chief by then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 1998 - a move he would later come to regret when the military ruler ousted Sharif in a bloodless military coup in 1999. Musharraf then served as Pakistan's president from 2001 to 2008.

Following the US invasion of Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks in 2001, Washington sought Pakistan's support in the 'War on Terror,' and Musharraf became a close ally of the then US administration of George Bush. He also won mass appeal in the West through his calls for Muslims to adopt a lifestyle of “enlightened moderation.” He also embraced liberal economic policies during his rule that impressed business leaders, brought in foreign investment and led to annual economic growth of as much as 7.5 percent.

Musharraf ruled as army chief until 2007 when he quit, trading the military post for a second five-year term as president.

He stepped down as president also in 2008 over fears of being impeached by Pakistan’s then ruling coalition. He subsequently left the country but returned in 2013 with the hope of regaining power as a civilian at the ballot box. However, he encountered a slew of criminal charges, and within a year, was barred for life from running for public office.

In 2016, after a travel ban was lifted, Musharraf left for Dubai to seek medical treatment and has since remained there. In 2019, a special court indicted him on treason charges in absentia, which he denied, and eventually sentenced him to death, though the ruling was later overturned by a higher court.

During his years in power, Musharraf saw many moments of tumult.

In 2006, a popular tribal leader from the southwestern province Balochistan was killed in military action ordered by Musharraf, unleashing an armed insurgency that goes on to date. In 2007, he ordered troops to storm a mosque in Islamabad whose clerics and students were calling for the imposition of Shariah law. The siege led to the birth of an indigenous Taliban movement, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which has since led an insurgency against the government in Islamabad and killed tens of thousands in brazen assaults on security, government and civilian targets.

In 2007, Musharraf demanded the resignation of then chief justice of the Supreme Court, unleashing a mass protest movement that massively dented his popularity and started calls for him to step down.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who is the brother of three-time former PM Nawaz whom Musharraf ousted in 1999, condoled over the military ruler's death and "sent prayers for forgiveness of the deceased and patience for the family,” the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a statement.

Among others who condoled were Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani, Pakistan Peoples Party Leader Faisal Karim Kundi, and a senior leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Chaudhary Fawad Hussain, who was for years in Musharraf's party.

“I have a long association with him and he always considered me his family member,” he said in a video statement. “Many called him a military dictator but Pakistan has never seen better democracy than his tenure.”

“He led Pakistan in very difficult circumstances and made it a pluralist society. He was a very big person, his friends proved to be small.”


In photos: The life and times of late Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf

Updated 05 February 2023

In photos: The life and times of late Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf

  • Musharraf seized power in a 1999 bloodless coup, became Pakistan's president in 2001
  • He was the chief regional ally of the US during its invasion of neighbouring Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has died in Dubai after a prolonged illness, the Pakistani military said on Sunday. 

Musharraf seized power in a 1999 bloodless coup, ruling as "chief executive" when the 9/11 attacks on the United States took place, before becoming president in 2001. 

He was the chief regional ally of the United States during its invasion of the neighbouring Afghanistan, but resigned in 2008 and was subsequently forced into exile after a backlash over his constitutional overreach. 

Here are some pictures depicting the life of the former Pakistani military ruler: 

On October 7, 1998, Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif appointed General Pervez Musharraf as the country's army chief. (AFP/File)

 

Pakistani army chief General Pervez Musharraf speaks during a nationwide address on state-owned television in Karachi on October 13, 1999. Musharraf said the armed forces had to intervene to end "uncertainty and turmoil." Musharraf said the "self serving policies" being followed by ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had rocked the country's very foundations. (AFP/File)
Pakistan's military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, left, taking oath as the President of Pakistan during a ceremony in President House in Islamabad on June 20, 2001. (AFP/File)
In his address to the nation on radio and TV on September 19, 2001, Musharraf explained his government's promise to back possible US military actions against Afghanistan a week after the September 11 attacks on the United States. (AFP/File)
Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf waves to his supporters at a polling station in Rawalpindi on April 20, 2002, after winning a referendum to extend his presidency by five years. (AFP/File)
On December 14 and 25, 2003, Musharraf survived two assassination attempts by Al-Qaida in Rawalpindi. (AFP/File)
During his television address to the nation on December 24, 2003, former president Pervez Musharraf confirmed he will quit as Pakistan's military chief in December, 2004. (AFP/File)
On December 30, 2004, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said he would stay on as army chief after controversially breaking an earlier promise to hang up his uniform by the year's end. (AFP/File)
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf launched his autobiography “In the Line of Fire” in New York, United States, on September 26, 2006. (AFP/File)
President General Pervez Musharraf suspended Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry on allegations of misconduct on March 9, 2007, which sparked city-wide protests in the federal capital Islamabad in the top judge's favor. (PID/File)
Pakistani security officials examine a long barrelled anti-aircraft gun in Rawalpindi, 06 July 2007, after gunmen fired at President Pervez Musharraf's plane. (AFP/File)
On July 10, 2007, then Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf ordered military troops to storm Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, to end a week-long siege by seminary students in Islamabad, Pakistan. (Photo courtesy: Daily Pakistan)
November 3, 2007 — President General Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency law in Pakistan. (Pakistan Television/Screen grab)
President Musharraf retired as army chief on November 28, 2007, putting an end to his eight years of military rule. (AFP/File)
Pervez Musharraf took oath as the president of Pakistan for a second term on 29 November, 2007. (AFP/File) 
President Musharraf lifted the emergency on December 25, 2007, and pledged free and fair elections next month. (AFP/File)
President Musharraf resigned from the office on August 18, 2008. (AFP/File)
Lawyers shout slogans against former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Dogar on July 31, 2009, after the Supreme Court declared the imposition of emergency rule by the former president unconstitutional. The court gave him seven days to respond. (AFP/File)

 

On March 24, 2013, Musharraf returned to Pakistan after more than four years in exile to contest in general elections. (AFP/File)
Former president Pervez Musharraf launched a career as a TV analyst on February 27, 2017. (Photo courtesy: Bol Tv)
A special court on December 17, 2019, sentenced former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in absentia to death for treason. (AFP/File)
Azhar Siddique, the lawyer of Musharraf, gestures along with team members outside the Lahore High Court on January 13, 2020 after the court annulled the death sentence handed to the former president, ruling that the special court which had found him guilty of treason in 2019 was unconstitutional. (AFP/File)

 


OBITUARY: Pakistan’s Musharraf, military ruler who allied with the US and promoted moderate Islam

Updated 05 February 2023

OBITUARY: Pakistan’s Musharraf, military ruler who allied with the US and promoted moderate Islam

  • The four-star general who ruled Pakistan for nearly a decade after seizing power in a bloodless coup in 1999
  • Under Musharraf, foreign investment flourished and Pakistan saw annual economic growth of as much as 7.5%

ISLAMABAD: Pervez Musharraf, the four-star general who ruled Pakistan for nearly a decade after seizing power in a bloodless coup in 1999, oversaw rapid economic growth and attempted to usher in socially liberal values in the conservative Muslim country.

Musharraf, 79, died in hospital after a long illness after spending years in self-imposed exile, Pakistan media reported on Sunday. He enjoyed strong support for many years, his greatest threat Al-Qaeda and other militant Islamists who tried to kill him at least three times.

But his heavy-handed use of the military to quell dissent as well as his continued backing of the United States in its fight against Al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban ultimately led to his downfall.

Born in New Delhi in 1943, Musharraf was four years old when his parents joined the mass exodus by Muslims to the newly created state of Pakistan. His father served in the foreign ministry, while his mother was a teacher and the family subscribed to a moderate, tolerant brand of Islam.

He joined the army at the age of 18 and went on to lead an elite commando unit before rising to become its chief. He took power by ousting the then prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, who had tried to sack him for greenlighting an operation to invade Indian-held areas of Kashmir, bringing Pakistan and India to the brink of war.

In his early years in government, Musharraf won plaudits internationally for his reformist efforts, pushing through legislation to protect the rights of women and allowing private news channels to operate for the first time.

His penchant for cigars and imported whisky and his calls for Muslims to adopt a lifestyle of “enlightened moderation” increased his appeal in the West in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

He became one of Washington’s most important allies after the attacks, allowing US forces to operate armed drones from secret bases on Pakistani soil that killed thousands and ordering domestic troops into the country’s lawless tribal areas along the Afghanistan frontier for the first time Pakistan’s history.

That helped legitimize his rule overseas but also helped plunge Pakistan into a bloody war against local extremist militant groups.

In a 2006 memoir, he took credit for saving Pakistan from American wrath saying the country had been warned it needed to be “prepared to be bombed back to the Stone Age” if it did not ally itself with Washington.

Musharraf also successfully lobbied then-President George W. Bush to pour money into the Pakistani military. Still, the army’s allegiances were never unambiguous: its powerful intelligence services cut deals with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, and bolstered an insurgency fighting US troops in Afghanistan.

In other areas of foreign policy, Musharraf attempted to normalize relations between New Delhi and Islamabad.

At a regional summit in 2002, less than three years after launching the military operation against India, Musharraf shocked the world when, after finishing a speech, he suddenly moved toward Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to shake hands and offered to talk peace.

Analysts say the issue of Kashmir – which remains the most potent point of contention between India and Pakistan – was close to being solved during the Musharraf era. But the peace process was derailed soon after his rule.

Under Musharraf, foreign investment flourished and Pakistan saw annual economic growth of as much as 7.5 percent — which remains the highest level in nearly three decades, according to World Bank data.

The later years of his presidency were, however overshadowed, by his increasingly authoritarian rule. In 2006, Musharraf ordered military action that killed a tribal head from the province Balochistan, laying the foundations of an armed insurgency that rages to this day.

The next year, more than a hundred students calling for the imposition of Sharia law were killed after Musharraf shunned negotiations and ordered troops to storm a mosque in Islamabad. That led to the birth of a new militant group, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which has since killed tens of thousands in suicide bombings and brazen assaults.

Later in 2007, a suicide attack that assassinated opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, triggered waves of violence. His efforts to strong arm the judiciary also led to protests and a besieged Musharraf postponed elections and declared a state of emergency.

In 2008, the country’s first democratic elections in 11 years were held. Musharraf’s party lost and facing impeachment by parliament he resigned the presidency and fled to London.

He returned to Pakistan in 2013 to run for a seat in parliament but was immediately disqualified. He was allowed to leave for Dubai in 2016.

In 2019, a court sentenced him to death in absentia for the 2007 imposition of emergency rule but the verdict was later overturned.