Rawalpindi eateries seek compensation for losses due to food street closure during cricket matches

An overview of food street at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on February 17, 2023. (AN Photo)
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Updated 18 February 2023

Rawalpindi eateries seek compensation for losses due to food street closure during cricket matches

  • Restaurant owners say they even have to pay rent for days when their businesses are closed and they earn nothing
  • The garrison city will be hosting 11 matches of the ongoing Pakistan Super League from March 1 till March 12

RAWALPINDI: As million across Pakistan and abroad follow the 8th edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), businessmen in the garrison city of Rawalpindi ask for compensation for the losses they are suffer due to the closure of a food street and businesses around the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium during the Twenty20 and international matches.

Pakistan’s inaugural national cricket league, launched in 2016, has been an unexpected success, even though many of the matches had to be played in the United Arab Emirates due to security risks till the tournament was fully moved to Pakistan in 2020. This year, Rawalpindi is hosting 11 PSL matches from March 1 till March 12.

However, authorities close the food street around the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, a popular destination among food enthusiasts in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, during both PSL and international cricket matches over security reasons.

“Since the resumption of international cricket matches in Pakistan, businesses have been incurring losses worth millions of rupees because food stalls and restaurants are closed during matches by the authorities,” Shiekh Muhammad Ibrahim, a restaurant owner, told Arab News.

Ibrahim demanded the authorities develop a system to hold matches without shutting down local businesses as this had become a routine occurrence due to the growing number of cricketing events taking place in the country.

A stall vendor is busy in preparing food at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on February 17, 2023. (AN Photo)

Pakistan was deemed unsafe for international cricket after a militant attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore killed eight people and injured several others in March 2009. 

As a consequence, the South Asian country was unable to co-host the 2011 Cricket World Cup, but international cricket teams started returning to Pakistan in December 2019.

While the return of international cricket to the country has brought joy to most Pakistanis, it has led to worries for a few others.

Kareem Khan, another restaurant owner, said he pays Rs350,000 ($1,331) in rent to the local administration and they do not exempt him from paying the rent on the days when his business is "forcibly closed" due to security measures.

“They should at least exempt us from paying rents during such closures as we are earning nothing,” Khan told Arab News.

Customers waiting in line for their orders at a restaurant on a popular food street inside Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, in Rawalpindi on February 17, 2023. (AN Photo)

Adnan Abbasi, who owns a tea stall, said he is the sole provider for a family of seven and depends on his daily earnings from selling tea to make ends meet. 

“The extended closure of the food street for more than two weeks due to security measures has made it difficult for us to survive, particularly during this time of high inflation,” Abbasi told Arab News.

Shakeel Ahmed, a manager at another eatery, suggested the authorities should come up with a system to allow businesses to operate during matches as good food options could attract more people to the matches.

“They can clear the area and limit the workforce by issuing passes, but the extreme measure of closure is making it difficult for the businesses to continue,” he told Arab News.

A stall vendor is busy preparing tea at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on February 17, 2023. (AN Photo)

A senior local government official justified the closure of the food street, saying it is necessary to ensure a smooth conduct of games and safety of international teams and players, who are extremely particular about security arrangements.

“Due to security concerns, the food street closes on every cricketing event. It is not the first time,” Nausheen Israr, the Rawalpindi additional deputy commissioner, told Arab News. "And when it's a matter of security, it's better to take precautions."

The official said such closures are a common practice across Pakistan, giving example of a food street near Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium that is closed over similar concerns.

“As per law, businesses have to abide by certain directions of the administration for smooth functioning of things,” Israr said, adding that a smooth conduct of key sports events was the responsibility of the administration.

A large number of people visit food street daily at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on February 17, 2023. (AN Photo)


India’s cricket chief says announcement of ODI World Cup schedule in June

Updated 27 May 2023

India’s cricket chief says announcement of ODI World Cup schedule in June

  • The delayed announcement owes to the political rivalry between India and Pakistan
  • Pakistan has threatened to boycott the World Cup if India refuses to play the Asia Cup

AHMEDABAD: The dates and venues for this year’s One Day International (ODI) World Cup in India will be revealed around the Test championship final, a top official of Indian cricket board said Saturday.

It remains unusual that a schedule has not been announced for the 50-over showpiece event expected to be held in October-November.

How to accommodate Pakistan remains the main cause of delay.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is looking to work out a plan to play arch-rivals and Asia Cup hosts Pakistan at a neutral venue in September.

Pakistan has threatened to boycott the World Cup in India if the cricketing powerhouse refuse to play the Asia Cup.

India and Australia will face-off for Test cricket’s ultimate prize in the final between June 7-11 at the Oval, which is likely to be the venue of the World Cup announcement.

“The venues for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 will be decided at a press conference during the ICC World Test Championship Final,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in a statement after a meeting on the eve of the Indian Premier League final in Ahmedabad.

“The complete schedule for the tournament will also be revealed,” he said adding that they were looking at all the major cities as venues for the tournament, including Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata.

The fate of the Asia Cup is expected to be decided on the sidelines of the IPL final between Chennai Super Kings and holders Gujarat Titans.

Shah, who is also president of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), has invited the cricket board presidents of Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka to the IPL final where they will discuss the tournament details.

“The future of the Asia Cup 2023 will be decided once we have a meeting with the ACC members (Test-playing nations) and the Associate nations,” said Shah.

Cricketing giants and arch-rivals India and Pakistan have not met on home soil in any version of the game since 2012, and only play each other in multinational tournaments on neutral grounds.

The two nations have fought three wars since being carved out of the subcontinent’s partition in 1947 and are bitter political rivals.

Renowned Pakistani doctor, Seemin Jamali, passes away at 61 in Karachi

Updated 27 May 2023

Renowned Pakistani doctor, Seemin Jamali, passes away at 61 in Karachi

  • Dr. Jamali lost her battle with cancer at a private hospital in the city after several months of illness
  • She was associated with Sindh’s biggest public hospital where she survived a bomb attack in 2010

KARACHI: A prominent Pakistani medical practitioner, Dr. Seemin Jamali, who supervised the largest public hospital in the southern province of Sindh before her retirement in August 2021, passed away in Karachi on Saturday, confirmed by her close relatives in a conversation with Arab News.

Dr. Jamali served as the executive director of Karachi’s Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC) during a period when the city experienced bomb blasts and other violent incidents.

Despite the challenging circumstances, the 61-year-old doctor patiently briefed the media after tragic attacks and soon became the most recognizable face at the medical facility.

She lost her battle with cancer at a private hospital in Karachi after several months of illness.

“Dr. Seemin Jamali has passed away today,” confirmed her cousin Yousuf Agha. “Her funeral will be held tomorrow at the JPMC mosque.”

In an interview with Arab News three years ago, Dr. Jamali recalled how she was injured in a blast that occurred at the main entrance of the hospital emergency in February 2010.

However, she returned to her duties the next day, leading a team of doctors to treat patients under her supervision.

“I fell down, and we had to be evacuated from the emergency room,” she said. “However, we came back the following morning and stood there as bravely as we could.”

She expressed that the incident, which claimed the lives of 18 people, would always remain in her memory.

Dr. Jamali also shared it was her father’s wish for her to become a doctor after she completed her studies in 1988, even though she had applied elsewhere and was chosen for three lucrative jobs.

“It was my father’s desire,” she told Arab News. “He told me it was time to repay my country.”

In recognition of her exceptional services in the field of medicine, Dr. Jamali was awarded the Medal of Excellence.

She is survived by her husband, Dr. AR Jamali, and her two sons, Omar and Babar Jamali.

Pakistan sends ‘high-level’ team to Madinah to monitor Hajj arrangements

Updated 27 May 2023

Pakistan sends ‘high-level’ team to Madinah to monitor Hajj arrangements

  • Religious affairs ministry says its team is taking care of accommodation, transportation, food and other facilities
  • Pakistani officials have already addressed pilgrim’s luggage-related problems and are conducting food inspections

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s religious affairs ministry has sent a team to the holy city of Madinah to monitor Hajj arrangements and ensure the provision of facilities to Pakistani pilgrims who have traveled to Saudi Arabia on the government’s Hajj scheme, reported state-owned Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) news agency on Saturday.

The kingdom reinstated Pakistan’s pre-pandemic Hajj quota of 179,210 pilgrims and scrapped the upper age limit of 65 earlier this year in January. About 80,000 Pakistanis are expected to perform their pilgrimage under the government scheme while the rest will be facilitated by private tour operators.

The first batch of Pakistani pilgrims arrived in Madinah on May 22. According to the religious affairs ministry, these pilgrims will depart for Makkah after about eight days of their arrival.

“A high-level team responsible for monitoring the Hajj arrangements has arrived in Madinah to oversee and ensure the provision of accommodation facilities, transportation, food, healthcare, and other logistical arrangements for the government scheme pilgrims,” the APP said.

“Led by joint secretary Arshad Farid Khan from the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, [the team] has already started diligently identifying areas for improvement, implementing necessary measures, and ensuring the enhancement of service quality provided to the pilgrims.”

Khan said the ministry staff tasked with overseeing the Hajj arrangements had already resolved many issues raised by the pilgrims, adding their luggage-related problems had been taken care of while officials were also conducting food inspection and monitoring the accommodation arrangements.

“Immediate action was taken against catering companies that displayed unsatisfactory performance, with some receiving warnings and others being blacklisted for future engagements,” he told APP.

Hajj is an obligatory religious ritual for adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of carrying it out. It involves visiting the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah at least once in a lifetime and takes place in Dhu Al-Hijjah, the last month of the lunar Islamic calendar.

Pakistan’s ousted PM nominates seven-member negotiating committee as government rules out talks

Updated 27 May 2023

Pakistan’s ousted PM nominates seven-member negotiating committee as government rules out talks

  • The ex-premier offered to negotiate with state authorities on Friday, as a massive crackdown against his party continued
  • Khan’s PTI suffered another blow as founding PTI leaders, Ali Zaidi and Imran Ismail, announced to quit and leave politics

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Imran Khan on Saturday announced a seven-member committee to negotiate with the government shortly after a senior cabinet member of the ruling coalition ruled out talks with him amid continuing exodus of founding leaders of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

Khan embroiled himself in a bitter rivalry with the army and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government after his ouster from power in a parliamentary vote of no-confidence last year which he blamed on a “foreign conspiracy” implemented by his political rivals and top generals.

Tensions intensified further after he was arrested by paramilitary Rangers on the instructions of the country’s anti-graft body on May 9, leading to violent protests in which several government buildings and military installations were torched by people carrying PTI flags.

The former prime minister made an offer to negotiate with state authorities on Friday amid a massive crackdown on his party, as several PTI supporters were arrested and many of its leaders were announcing to leave.

“On the instructions of PTI chairman Imran Khan, a negotiating team has been formed for talks with the government,” the PTI announced on Twitter. “A notification has been issued in the name of all seven people included in the negotiating team.”

The social media post added the PTI team would discuss a plan of action with the government regarding the forthcoming elections in the country.

It said the committee would include former ministers, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pervez Khattak, Murad Saeed, Hamad Azhar, along with the ex-speaker of the National Assembly, Asad Qaiser, among others.

Most of the people named in the committee are either in the custody of law enforcement agencies since the May 9 violence or staying underground to avoid arrest.

It is also not clear how the negotiating team will engage the government after information minister Mariyam Aurangzeb ruled out talks with those “who attacked sensitive installations and buildings which were symbols of national pride” and “poisoned the minds of the youth.”

“Imran [Khan] was not ready to sit with the opposition parties on critical issues [during his tenure in power],” she said in an official handout.

The minister’s statement was issued as some of the founding PTI leaders, including the party president in Sindh, Ali Zaidi, and former governor of the same province, Imran Ismail, announced to quit the party.

Both leaders condemned the May 9 violence in their statements.

Ex-Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan's aide and former governor of Sindh province Imran Ismail gestures during a news conference in Karachi on May 27, 2023. (AN Photo)

“I am not sure if I will continue to stay in politics or not,” said Ismail during a news conference at the Karachi Press Club.

Zaidi, who served as the minister of ports and shipping in Khan’s administration, said the violent protests against the military were “wrong,” adding that Pakistani citizens slept peacefully at night since their soldiers were there to protect the borders.

“After much deliberation, I have decided to quit politics,” he continued. “I will also resign from the positions I hold within the party.”

Amid the ongoing political situation, the government also revoked the diplomatic passports issued to top PTI leaders, including former federal ministers Qureshi, Khattak and Asad Umar.

PM Sharif praises Pakistani peacekeepers’ sacrifice as UN awards eight soldiers posthumously

Updated 27 May 2023

PM Sharif praises Pakistani peacekeepers’ sacrifice as UN awards eight soldiers posthumously

  • UN honored 103 peacekeepers who lost their lives last year at a recent ceremony held in New York
  • Pakistan is one of the largest contributors of troops to the United Nations peacekeeping operations

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday applauded Pakistani soldiers for their diligent service in United Nations peacekeeping missions in conflict zones around the world, as the world body posthumously awarded prestigious medals to eight of them who lost their lives last year.

Pakistan has a long history of involvement in UN peacekeeping operations since it first started participating in 1960. As one of the largest contributors of troops, Pakistani military personnel have served in missions in Sierra Leone, Somalia, Liberia, Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, Yemen, and Lebanon.

“In honor of the completion of 75 years of the UN Peacekeeping Mission, Pakistan is proud to be one of the largest contributors to peace missions under the United Nations umbrella,” the prime minister said in a Twitter post. “Pakistani soldiers have rendered excellent services, including making the ultimate sacrifice, in the most complex and dangerous conflict zones. We are proud of our peacekeepers for their unprecedented commitment to duty.”

The UN held a ceremony at its headquarters in New York on Thursday to honor 103 military, police, and civilian peacekeepers, including eight Pakistanis, who lost their lives in the line of duty under its banner last year.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres laid a floral wreath at the Peacekeepers Memorial before presiding over a medal distribution ceremony.

“I honor the memory of the men and women who have sacrificed their lives serving under the @UN flag in support of the most important cause of all - peace,” he wrote on Twitter. “My deepest sympathies go to their families, friends, and colleagues. Their contributions will never be forgotten.”

Since 1948, more than 4,200 UN peacekeepers have lost their lives in countries worldwide.

In recent years, Pakistan has actively promoted the inclusion of female peacekeepers to help empower local women in conflict zones.