Pakistan is ready to defend Saudi Arabia’s “territorial integrity”

  • Published in Saudi Arabia
Islamabad: Pakistan is ready to defend Saudi Arabia’s “territorial integrity”, but has not yet decided to join Riyadh’s coalition fighting Yemen rebels, the defence minister said on Friday.

Saudi Arabia began air strikes in Yemen on Thursday to defend the government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi from advancing Al Houthi rebels.

Pakistani Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said the country would defend Saudi sovereignty “at any cost,” but appeared to rule out any immediate Pakistani participation in the fighting, which has so far been confined to Yemen.

“We don’t want to be part of any proliferation, we will try to contain it,” Asif told parliament, adding that there was concern it could fan sectarian tensions in Pakistan and the Muslim world.

The Saudi ambassador in Washington said on Thursday that Pakistan was among 10 countries ready to join a coalition to protect the Yemeni government.

Pakistan is a long-standing ally of Saudi Arabia with close military ties, but Islamabad has not yet committed to the operation, which has drawn strong criticism from its neighbour Iran.

Asif said Pakistan’s “only pledge is for the territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”.

“God forbid, if there is any threat to the sovereignty or territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan will defend it at any cost,” he told lawmakers.

Sectarian fears

Saudi Arabia has said it is ready to do “whatever it takes” to protect Hadi’s government, but Tehran has slammed the intervention as “a dangerous step”.

The White House has voiced concerns about reports of Iranian arms flowing into Yemen and there are fears of the conflict turning into a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Like Saudi, Pakistan has a majority Sunni Muslim population, but around 20 per cent of its citizens are Shiite — the world’s second-largest Shiite population after Iran.

Sectarian violence, mostly by Sunni hardline militants targeting Shiites, has risen sharply in Pakistan in recent years.

A suicide bomber last month killed 61 people at a Shiite mosque in the southern district of Shikarpur. At least 1,000 Shiites have been killed in the country over the past two years.

Defence Minister Asif said Pakistan’s recent experience showed the danger of sectarian strife.

“We are not and will not fan any conflict that will divide the Muslim world on sectarian lines,” he said.

“We will not be part of [such a] conflict, especially when the fault lines are present in Pakistan and we do not want to disturb those fault lines.”

Saudi-Pakistan military ties go back decades and Riyadh, along with the US, funnelled millions of clandestine dollars through Pakistan in the 1980s to fund the Afghan mujahideen’s fight against Soviet occupation.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has close ties with the Saudi royal family and was hosted by the kingdom when he fled a military coup that abruptly ended his last term in power in 1999.

But any enthusiasm in Pakistan for helping such a close ally will be tempered by fear of alienating Iran and of fanning sectarian divisions at home.

Sharif met top defence and military officials late on Thursday and announced a delegation would be sent to Saudi on Friday to assess the Yemen situation.

But this mission has now been delayed, with Asif telling parliament they would wait for the outcome of a two-day Arab League summit in Egypt this weekend.

Waqar fears 'death' of Pakistan cricket

  • Published in Cricket
Waqar fears 'death' of Pakistan cricket
Sydney: Waqar Younis warned on Tuesday that cricket could die out in Pakistan if rival teams continue to boycott the country where international tours have not taken place since 2009.

 There has been no international cricket in Pakistan since the militant attacks on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in March 2009 which killed eight people and injured seven visiting players. 

"The biggest hurt is that we are not able to stage international matches," Pakistan head coach Waqar told AFP.


"I fear the game might die out as we lack talent at junior level and it's tough to indulge kids in cricket. It's a very important aspect, we have to bring international cricket back and the government has to help in this regard."


The Pakistan Cricket Board managed to bring minnows Kenya for a short one-day series last year and are negotiating with Zimbabwe for a visit in May this year.


Waqar believes Pakistan's quarter-final exit from the World Cup at the hands of Australia showed there is a lot of hard work to be done on the country's cricket set-up and infrastructure.


"If we want to save Pakistan cricket we have to lift our domestic game because there was a big difference in standards at the World Cup. We were well behind other teams.


"We can't delay it, we need power-hitters like there are in other teams and players who can score 300-plus runs," said Waqar, whose team only crossed the 300-mark just once in seven games at the World Cup -- against the amateurs of the United Arab Emirates.


"Cricket is changing fast and we have to keep pace with that, if not we will be left far behind."

Waqar stressed Pakistan needed good batsmen. "Bowling has never been our problem," said Waqar, himself a great fast bowler. "I think we should feel proud of our bowling at the World Cup.


"But it's the batting where we have been struggling for a long time now and after Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan --whenever he quits -- we will have a big vacuum.

"It is a matter of putting things in order. It's not only about winning the World Cup but also improving our ranking by lifting our standards."


Waqar said strict rules on bowling actions badly affected Pakistan's build-up for the World Cup.


"Just before the World Cup, the International Cricket Council launched a crackdown and because of that we lost Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez," said Waqar of his two key spinners who were suspended due to illegal actions.


"But now is the time we should lift ourselves because cricket has been our pride."



Quarter final defeat: Pakistan fans break TV sets after team’s exit from Cricket World Cup

  • Published in Cricket
Quarter final defeat: Pakistan fans break TV sets after team’s exit from Cricket World Cup
Islamabad: Pakistan fans smashed their televisions in anger in Multan after the national team was ousted from the Cricket World Cup quarterfinals by Australia on Friday.

Local TV channels showed a handful of people taking their TVs outside and breaking them on the streets after the six-wicket loss in Adelaide, Australia.

Pakistan won the toss and batted poorly in being dismissed for 213. Australia, thanks to two dropped catches by Pakistan, overhauled that total with more than 16 overs to spare.


"It was a good batting wicket, and Pakistan should have scored 270, but our immature batting lineup doesn't have the capacity to even bat out a full 50 overs," former fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar told Geo TV.

Akhtar rued the absence of fast bowler Mohammad Irfan, who was sidelined by a hip injury.

"In the absence of an unfit Irfan, Pakistan was left with just one strike bowler in Wahab Riaz," he said.

Murtaza Badar, a 24-year-old businessman from Rawalpindi, expected Pakistan to do much better.

"I switched off my TV and got back to work once Pakistan gave the target of only 214 runs," Badar told The Associated Press. "How long are we going to see old faces in the team, who are simply doing nothing?"

Two of those old faces, captain Misbah-ul-Haq and former skipper Shahid Afridi, retired from one-day internationals after the loss.

Misbah, who made his ODI debut in 2002, took over the captaincy after the last World Cup, where Afridi led the team to the semifinals. Misbah was the leading Pakistan run-scorer at the World Cup with 350, seventh best of all-comers.

Afridi played his first ODI in 1996 at 16, and will carry on as the Twenty20 captain. Just as Misbah will continue as the test captain.

But their ODI achievements will be acknowledged by the Pakistan Cricket Board when they return home.

"I take this opportunity to convey my personal appreciation for their immense contribution to Pakistan cricket. We shall honor them on their return to Pakistan," Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shaharyar Khan said in a statement.


World Cup 2015: Australia stuns Pakistan, to face India in Semifinal

  • Published in Cricket
World Cup 2015: Australia stuns Pakistan, to face India in Semifinal
Adelaide: Australia achieved the paltry total of 213 runs at the loss of just four wickets with 97 balss to spare against Pakistan. Good to see Wahab Riaz hug Glenn Maxwell. Now both teams shake hands. Clarke pats Watson on the back. Younis Khan hugs Shahid Afridi as well. Got to feel for Pakistan and Wahab Riaz. If only the batsmen scored 50-60 more runs, things could have been different. Well, this could well be the end of the ODI careers for Misbah, Younis and Afridi.

Despite Wahab Riaz peppering the batsmen with vicious bouncers and taking a couple of wickets, Australia were able to chase down a modest target. It was Steven Smith, who played with poise and balance to shore up the innings. Shane Watson, who was troubled by Riaz's blistering pace early on also played his part by composing a crucial half-century. Australia with this victory have reached the semi-finals.

For a brief period, Riaz sent shivers down the spine of the batsmen by bowling a barrage of well-directed short deliveries. When he dug it short, Riaz generally bowled it head high and outside the off-stump. The left-armer's angle also troubled the opposition. The strategy paid rich dividends as he picked up the wickets of David Warner and Michael Clarke. He should have snared the wicket of Watson too, but Rahat Ali dropped a sitter at long-leg and that perhaps was the turning point of the game. Poor Riaz, as Sohail Khan too dropped a catch to give Glenn Maxwell a reprieve. Maxwell made them pay by clobbering Pakistan's pacers with thunderous strokes as Pakistan hurtled towards a defeat.

Ads by ZINC
Earlier, the bowlers put up a superlative performance to rip through the Pakistani line-up and put Australia in pole position. Mitchell Starc swung the new as well as the old ball to trouble the batsmen. Starc is in the form of his life for sure. Josh Hazlewood, with his unremitting accuracy and the ability to extract bounce, also made his mark by scalping four wickets. Even Maxwell chipped in with wickets.

At the other end of the spectrum, it has to be said that Pakistan's batsmen showed poor shot selection. Despite getting starts, none of them were able to convert it into a big score. Haris Sohail top-scored with 41, but even he struggled for timing and placement. Their fielding and batting certainly let them down. Due to this gut-wrenching loss, Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi weren't able to end their careers on a high.

Australia will be brimming with confidence when they take on India in the semifinals at the SCG. It should turn out to be a mouth-watering contest between two form sides of the tournament.


‘Credible evidence’ on Lakhvi shared with Pakistan: US

  • Published in World
‘Credible evidence’ on Lakhvi shared with Pakistan: US
The U.S. has said it shared “credible evidence” with Pakistan on LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi’s involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, days after it reminded the country its commitment to bring the perpetrators of the horrific attack to justice.

“The U.S. has provided credible evidence (on Lakhvi) to Pakistan,” a senior U.S. official told PTI.

The official refused to give any further details and said this was an ongoing legal matter.

But, the information provided by the U.S. to Pakistan on Lakhvi and others related to the Mumbai terror attack is credible, the official said.

The detailed information shared by U.S. on individuals related to the Mumbai terror attack is based on the interrogation of David Headley, who is currently serving jail sentence for his involvement in the attack, and the information gained from him.

Various security agencies and intelligence wings of the U.S. have done their own investigation with regard to the 26/11 attack.

Earlier, the U.S. had said there was a strong counter-terrorism cooperation with Pakistan and it hoped that Islamabad would follow through its commitment on bringing to justice the perpetrators of the attacks.

“The government of Pakistan has pledged its cooperation in bringing the perpetrators — financiers, and sponsors of the Mumbai terrorist attacks to justice and we urge Pakistan to follow through on that commitment,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki had said, adding that Pakistan is a critical partner in fight against terrorism.

Lakhvi and six others — Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum — have been charged with planning and executing the Mumbai attack in November, 2008, that claimed 166 lives.

World cup 2015: Pakistan registers 7 wicket win over Ireland, to face Australia in quarters

  • Published in Cricket
Adelaide: Pakistan's disciplined pace bowlers restricted Ireland to 237 and then the batsmen took over to help claim a seven-wicket win Sunday and a place in the World Cup quarterfinals.

After captain William Porterfield won the toss and provided Ireland's only resistance at the crease, scoring his first World Cup century (107), Pakistan replied methodically at Adelaide Oval, scoring its first 100 runs without loss as openers Sarfraz Ahmed (101 not out) and Ahmed Shehzad (63) found gaps in the Irish field placements.

Sarfraz's century was Pakistan's first of the tournament, leading his team to 241-3 in 46.1 overs. Umar Akmal (20 not out) spent much of his time in the final overs blocking shots in order to give Sarfraz the strike and a chance to reach 100.

The win moves Pakistan, which lost its first two matches before winning its next four, into a quarterfinal match at the same Adelaide ground on Friday against four-time champion Australia.

Left-arm fast bowler Wahab Riaz took 3-54 and Sohail Khan had 2-44 to lead the Pakistan bowlers. It was Pakistan's first win at the tournament while batting second.

It was a disappointing end to the tournament for second-tier team Ireland, which won three of six matches, including victories over higher-ranked teams West Indies and Zimbabwe.

In 2007, Ireland, playing in its first World Cup, upset Pakistan by three wickets to eliminate Pakistan from the knockout rounds.

Pakistan player Younis Khan, who played in that 2007 match but didn't get a start Sunday, said revenge wasn't in their minds. But the team wanted to win Sunday to honor the memory of former coach Bob Woolmer, who died in his hotel room the day after that loss in Kingston, Jamaica eight years ago.

Earlier, Porterfield, who was dropped on 99, was dismissed for 107 when caught by Shahid Afridi off the bowling of Khan.

Ireland didn't reach 200 until the 44th over and its run rate dipped when Porterfield departed, losing 3-22 in one collapse and its last six wickets for 55 runs. Ireland also failed to establish any big partnerships, its longest being 48.

With St. Patrick's Day two days away, the Irish crowd, some wearing oversized plush green top hats, were the more vocal in the stands but had little to cheer about for most of the match. The green in Pakistan's flag and the teams both decked out in similar colors ensured that the hue was well represented around the ground.

While Ireland made no changes to its lineup for the match, Pakistan was without pace spearhead Mohammad Irfan, who has a hip injury, and dropped batsman Younis Khan. Haris Sohail and Ehsan Adil came into the starting 11.


Pakistan bows to India's pressure, issues arrest order of Lakhvi

  • Published in World
Pakistan bows to India's pressure, issues arrest order of Lakhvi
Islamabad: Once again, India's pressure pushed Pakistan to keep Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attack, behind bars.

A Pakistani court had on Friday declared the detention orders of Lakhvi as illegal and ordered his immediate release, triggering strong reaction from India which summoned the Pakistan envoy in New Delhi to convey its outrage. The Islamabad deputy commissioner had also issued his release order.

However, Lakhvi's detention has been extended by the Punjab Provincial government to maintain public order. Lakhvi (believed to be a close relative of Laskhar-e-Toiba founder and Jamat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed) will now stay behind bars for another one month.

Reacting to the extension order, Lakhvi's lawyer said this happened due to pressure from the Indian government. 

In a statement, India's External Affairs Ministry had yesterday said that if a person, who is also a designated international terrorist by the United Nations, is released, it will pose a threat that cannot be ignored.

The Pakistani government had taken Lakhvi and six other suspects into custody in February 2009 over charges of "facilitating" the Mumbai terror attack and since then they were in jail.

The Islamabad High Court on December 29 last year suspended the detention order but this was restored later. The court, however, on Friday declared Lakhvi's detention orders illegal and ordered his immediate release.

There was outrage in India.

The issue figured in Parliament and the government summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit to the External Affairs Ministry in South Block.

Lakhvi is accused of masterminding the Mumbai terror attack in November 2008 in which 166 people, many of them foreigners, were killed and hundreds others wounded.


Pakistan cricket team to tour India in 2016: PCB chief

  • Published in Cricket
Pakistan cricket team to tour India in 2016: PCB chief
Islamabad: Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shahryar Khan said that the country's cricket team will tour India in 2016.

The PCB chief, who said this in an interview with Headlines Today, also hoped that with things getting better, Pakistan would be in a position to host India in the next five years. 

"I hope so," Khan replied, when asked if Pakistan would be in a position to hosts India in the next five years.

"Because things are getting better. Peshawar and Quetta are not good but the rest of Pakistan is pretty good," he continued.

The arch-rivals last played a bilateral series in December 2012-January 2013 when Pakistan toured India for a short series. The last time India toured Pakistan was way back in 2005-06 under the leadership of Rahul Dravid for three Tests and five ODIs.

"We have now got two or three venues -- Karachi and Lahore -- where we can seal the area around the stadium. The venues are very good, they are Test playing venues and you have living quarters next door which means all that the cricketers have to do is to take their kit bags and walk across under a tunnel.

"We have got this in Karachi and Lahore, and we want to do it in Multan and Faislabad. We will then have four venues where you can be absolutely 100 per cent sure that there will be no security threat. The danger is in the travel between the hotel and the stadium, this is what happened to the Sri Lankan team (in 2009)," Khan said.

The Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) and the PCB have signed a 'binding agreement', according to which India and Pakistan are scheduled to play 12 Tests, 30 ODIs and 11 Twenty20s spread over six series with the first one scheduled from December 2015. However, all series will be played subject to Indian government clearance.

Insisting that the security situation in Pakistan is "much better" now, the PCB chief said the board can repose faith in full members to tour the strife-torn country in the near future by successfully hosting the ICC associate nations.

Khan said at present the PCB has no plans to host top cricket playing nations, who according to him have assured to "consider" touring Pakistan in future if the security situation improved significantly.

"If you compare the security situation in the worst times of 2005 to 2008 it is much better now. The incidents of terrorist attacks have gone down and we can prove that. But sometimes you can get the odd. They are few and far between," the PCB chief said.

"At present we are not planning to host top teams like India, Australia, England. We already hosted Afghanistan. Netherlands was supposed to come and they will come a little later. Ireland and Scotland are keen. Nepal I hope would be coming next month. So these associate members are ready to come to Pakistan.

"This year we will see one or two other teams visiting Pakistan. The bigger teams have told us that you get these associate teams in Pakistan and demonstrate that the security situation is much better, we will also consider," Khan said.

"We have teams like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh who have said that let them come first and we will follow later."

Pakistan have been deprived of hosting international cricket since March 2009, after terrorists attacked the Sri Lanka team bus and a van carrying ICC officials to Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on what would have been the third day of the second Test of that tour.

Some members of the Sri Lanka contingent and reserve umpire Ahsan Raza sustained injuries, and six security personnel and two civilians were killed.

Subscribe to this RSS feed