Peshawar out to end play-off curse against Karachi

SHARJAH: Peshawar Zalmi will be out to end their play-off curse and make it to the final of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) when they take on Karachi Kings in Dubai on Friday.

Peshawar, for the second season running, finished top of the group stages but suffered a one-run defeat against Quetta Gladiators to find themselves facing an eliminator.

However, what is different this time around is that instead of Misbahul Haq’s Islamabad United, they take on Kumar Sangakkara’s Karachi in the do-or-die game.

Peshawar have a superior 3-1 win-loss ratio against the Karachi side so may go into the game high on confidence. However, their only loss did come in the last game between these two sides.

Batsman Sohaib Maqsood admits the pressure is firmly on the Peshawar side as they once again face the prospect of failing to reach the final after topping their group.

“This is our second chance of reaching the final; there is a bit of pressure but we are trying to be as focused as we can,” Maqsood told The Express Tribune.

The former Pakistan international knows his side should really have been in the final after throwing away the initiative in the game against Quetta where they needed just one run off the final three balls to take the game into a super over.

“We had a really close game against Quetta and we let it go from our hands,” he said. “But this time around we are confident we will manage to ensure that the game doesn’t get decided by chance.”

The right-handed middle-order batsman knows the team that manages to hold its nerves better in the crunch game may well be the one facing Quetta in the final in Lahore. “The team that holds its nerves at the crucial times will have an advantage in the upcoming game,” he said. “We were unable to do that in the last game and it cost us the win.”

Maqsood revealed that Peshawar have pinpointed Karachi’s batting trio of tournament top-scorer Babar Azam, West Indies big-hitter Chris Gayle and Pakistan international Shoaib Malik as the dangermen.

“Babar can be their main batsman but Gayle needs to be dismissed quickly otherwise he can score big if he stays out there,” he said, while also admitting that playing pacer Mohammad Amir and spin duo Imad Wasim and Usama Mir won’t be easy to face. “It will be a fun match to play under so much pressure.”

However, the Multan-born added his side also boasts some of the finest match-winners around, naming the likes of skipper Darren Sammy, star all-rounder Shahid Afridi and pace spearhead Wahab Riaz. “They have delivered some match-winning performances and we require something similar in the next game against Karachi.”

Karachi, on the other hand, are now the tournament’s form side with five wins in their last six games, including knocking out champions Islamabad in their last game.

However, Imad knows the batsmen need to up the ante against Peshawar. “We were around 25 runs short against Islamabad, but managed to defend it through some brilliant bowling,” said Imad.

The Pakistan all-rounder admits the side may have misread the pitch a bit in the last game. “We were expecting the pitch to support the bowlers but it didn’t, although the ball was skiding in the first half and wasn’t coming onto the bat like it did in the previous matches,” he said.

Imad impressed in tandem with spin partner Mir and the left-arm spinner hailed his younger leg spin colleague. “Mir helps me a lot since he is a wicket-taker so my job changes when he bowls with me,” he said. “However, against Islamabad we knew we needed wickets from both ends.”

Imad admitted the team is riding a wave of confidence with three wins on the trot. “The last two wins against Islamabad and the win against Lahore really lifted the team’s morale and confidence,” he said.

Uber and Careem banned from airport pickups in Saudi Arabia

Drivers from ride-hailing services Uber and Careem are barred from picking up passengers from Saudi Arabia’s airports, Al Madina newspaper reported, quoting a spokesman from the kingdom’s General Directorate of Traffic.

Traffic authorities would punish any violators found transporting passengers on airport grounds, Colonel Tareq Al-Rubaiaan was quoted as saying

Airport regulations have long barred private drivers from offering their cars for hire to arriving passengers in Saudi Arabia, which means the ride-sharing apps have operated in legally murky territory as they grew increasingly popular.

Uber has had shaky ties with Gulf regulators, and only last month signed an agreement with transport authorities in neighboring Dubai to become fully regulated after a series of clashes over pricing and availability.

Saudi Arabia has embraced Uber and regional rival Careem to a far greater extent, courting both companies with substantial state investments to support its Vision 2030 economic reform plan, particularly its goal to get more women in the workforce.

In a country where women are barred from driving and private drivers are often prohibitively expensive, women account for around 80 percent of Uber and Careem’s passengers.

The state’s Public Investment Fund bought a $3.5 billion stake in Uber in June, while state-controlled Saudi Telecom Co (STC) invested $100 million in Careem in December.

Saudi authorities have also used the apps to bolster employment for Saudi men, requiring in November that Uber and Careem “limit the jobs to Saudi nationals,” while allowing non-Saudis already registered as drivers to continue to work for the companies.


Three English players from Quetta Gladiators bow out of PSL final in Lahore

Three English players of the Quetta Gladiators — Kevin Pietersen, Tymal Mills and Luke Wright —announced on Wednesday that they will not be participating in the Pakistan Supe
r League (PSL) final to be played in Lahore on March 5.

Luke Wright said in a tweet that he has a “young family” and for him the game was not “worth the risk”. “It’s with a heavy heart I will not be coming to Lahore,” he tweeted


Pietersen bid goodbye to Dubai, saying he would be returning to his family in London.

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Mills too said in a Twitter note that he would not be attending the final match.

PSL final tickets selling out, desperate cricket fans throng banks

As ticket sales for the Pakistan Super League final began on Wednesday, desperate fans rushed to local banks where tickets were being sold after e-tickets sold out within hours.

Cricket enthusiasts from all over Punjab had made their way to Lahore, hoping to find cheap tickets at bank branches designated to sell them. However, their efforts were to no avail, as one bank official told DawnNewsthat his branch had received only 10 tickets of Rs500 value.

“They asked us to stand in the line for Rs4,000 tickets after [the Rs500 tickets were sold out], but even those tickets were sold out shortly. Only tickets worth Rs8,000 and Rs12,000 tickets are available, which we cannot afford,” a cricket enthusiast waiting in line since 7am told DawnNews.Fans seemed to shrug off the fact that their favourite teams may not feature the high-profile international players they are most famous for in the league’s finale.

Earlier in the day, three English cricketers playing for Quetta Gladiators, the first team to reach the final, said they would not play in Pakistan .

Kevin Pietersen, Tymal Mills and Luke Wright, said they were excusing themselves from the PSL final on security concerns.

Pakistan bans rallies praising killer of blasphemy law reform proponent

The blasphemy law and Taseer’s murder have exposed the growing gap between hard-line religious conservatives and liberals in Pakistan.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said on Tuesday it would bar Islamist organisations from staging rallies commemorating a killer whom many religious groups consider a hero for assassinating a prominent politician who had called for the reform of blasphemy laws.

Mumtaz Qadri was executed on Feb. 29 last year for murdering Punjab governor Salman Taseer, whom he served as a bodyguard before killing him in the capital Islamabad in 2011.

Taseer had enraged religious hardliners by calling for the reform of blasphemy laws that mandate the death penalty for insulting Islam.

The blasphemy law and Taseer’s murder have exposed the growing gap between hard-line religious conservatives and liberals in Pakistan.

Members of Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah, a coalition of Islamist groups which planned to stage a rally on Wednesday to honour Qadri, said two of its leaders had been placed under house arrest ahead of the one-year anniversary of Qadri’s death.

Pakistan: Many Hindu girls forced into Muslim marriages

Pakistan is a Muslim-majority country with 80% of the population following Islam. Reports show many Hindu Pakistani girls are forced into Muslim marriages

Around 1,000 girls from minority religious groups in Pakistan are forced to convert to Islam every year, local Pakistani human rights group South Asia Partnership-Pakistan reports.

USA Today reports: “Legislation banning such conversions for those under age 18 was passed unanimously late last year by the legislature of the southern province of Sindh … but it never went into effect.”

The measure, which called for up to five years in jail for those who forced a conversion, was objected by Islamic groups. “They threatened protests, arguing the law was anti-Islamic and part of a conspiracy to make Pakistan a secular country,” USA Today writes.

The report also quotes Hafiz Saeed, a leader of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (a self-described charity that the United States has labeled a terrorist group): “We will not remain silent on this controversial law.”

This legislative measure was later vetoed in January by Sindh Governer Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui. According to activists, this defeat was a major hindrance for human rights in Pakistan.

The report also recounts two instances where girls were abducted and police refused to help their families. In one narrative, fourteen-year-old Ameri Kashi Kohli was abducted by her landlord and forced to marry him to become his second wife.

JazzCash Cricket Festival launched on

Cricket buzz is at an all-time high with the successful launch of the Pakistan Super League (PSL). Never one to miss out on fun and adventure, and JazzCash have entered the arena and are ready to start an exciting innings of their own with the JazzCash Cricket Festival, offering the best deals and discounts available on the internet to make the cricket season more exciting.

Best deals on the internet – howzat? is a leading, one-stop shopping destination in Pakistan with the largest variety of products under one roof, and with JazzCash as a payment partner, the duo are bound to heavy-ball a great customer experience. The JazzCash Cricket Festival started on from February 23, aiming to clean-bowl customers with discounts up to 65% on smartphones, fashion, beauty, home appliances, electronics, TVs, cameras, sports and fitness equipment, gaming consoles and several other categories.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Jonathan Doerr, Co-CEO Daraz said, “Daraz and JazzCash have teamed up to offer the best way to spend the cricket season. This is the first big event this year after Black Friday 2016, and once again we plan to sweep people off their feet with unbelievable prices from leading brands as well as some exciting product launches.”

Aniqa Afzal, Chief Digital & Financial Services for Jazz, commented on the partnership and said, “In our drive to provide our customers with the best possible deals, our partnership with marks an important milestone in our digital journey as the Number 1 Digital Company in Pakistan. JazzCash provides a sustainable and secure e-commerce platform for its customers, and enables them to benefit from the convenience of the JazzCash network.”

Lahore DHA blast was an ‘accident’ caused by cylinder explosion: Rana Sanaullah

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said on Friday that the blast in Lahore’s DHA area a day earlier was not an act of terror but an “accident”, as forensic samples collected from the site had shown that the blast was a cylinder explosion.

Six samples collected from the building where the blast that killed 10 people took place did not contain traces of explosives, he told a news conference, quoting a forensics laboratory report.

“Yesterday’s explosion was an accident and not a terrorist or explosives blast,” he said.

He said the collected samples had hinted at a gas leakage and shown presence of cylinders in the building.

“We will take strict action against authorities involved in making substandard cylinders that led to this explosion,” he said.

Explaining the delay in determining the nature of the blast, he said due to the extensive damage caused by the blast, the forensics team could not collect samples from the site until the debris had been cleared, which took some time.

The assessment of samples at forensics laboratory requires around 6-8 hours, he said.

The minister regretted that some TV channels had given the DHA blast spin of a terrorism incident and later ran news of another blast that caused “fear and panic” among the citizens.

PSL final

Answering a question, Sanaullah said the decision about whether the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final will be held in Lahore or not will be shared with the public today.

He said Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif was meant to chair a meeting on the PSL final on Thursday but it could not be held due to the DHA incident.

Thursday’s blast at an under-construction cafe in the Defence Housing Authority area’s Z Block killed its owner Moazam Paracha, who was also chief executive officer of telecom company Airlink. Sanaullah said the blast had killed seven people and injured 35 others.

The explosion, which was given a mysterious touch by an unending variety of explanations from police officers, partially damaged some nearby buildings. Some vehicles and motorbikes parked in the immediate surroundings were also damaged.

According to witnesses, the explosion was followed by a storm of dust and panic in the vicinity.

There were conflicting reports about the nature of the blast from the beginning. It was by turns termed a cylinder blast and a time bomb. Later in the day, some police officers returned to the original claim that it was a cylinder explosion. One officer said the material that exploded might have been stored in the building, as opposed to some individual terrorist or a network planting it there.

Threat alert: Sindh Home Dept names likely terrorist targets in Karachi

KARACHI: The Sindh Home Department on Thursday issued a notification that contained certain areas of Karachi which could be on the terrorists’ agenda next. 

According to details, a notification by the Sindh Home Department stated that Sindh High Court, Empress Market, Sindh Assembly, Zainab Market, markets located at M.A.Jinnah Road and the restaurants located at Do Darya, could next be targeted by militants.

The notification comes after a recent spate of terrorist atacks in the country taking place in Peshawar, Sehwan Sharif, Charsadda and Lahore. In the past ten days, more than 100 Pakistanis have been killed in terrorist attacks across the country.

On Thursday, a bomb blast in Lahore killed 8 people and injured 17 others.


Supreme Court reserves decision in Panama Leaks case

ISLAMABAD:The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday reserved its decision with regard to the Panama Leaks case, stating that the decision would be announced later.

Justice Khosa stated that a short order would not be issued on the matter and that the court would look at the case from all angles.

“We will take some time and look at the case in depth,” he said.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan had conducted 26 proceedings of the Panama Leaks case from anew, with PTI chief Imran Khan, Sheikh Rasheed and JI filing petitions. While Naeem Bokhari had represented PTI chief Imran Khan, Makhdoom Ali Khan had represented Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. NAB and FBR heads were also summoned by the Supreme Court before it reserved its decision.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan resumed proceedings into the Panama Leaks case on Thursday with PTI lawyer Naeem Bokhari concluding his arguments.

A five member larger bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa earlier resumed hearing into the Panama Leaks case petitions, as lawyer Naeem Bokhari was present in a packed courtroom filled with politicians and lawyers, to answer a couple of queries.

PTI lawyer Naeem Bokhari cited the decision given by the court in the case of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani to which the bench replied that the decision had been taken in response to a contempt of court petition against the then-premier.

“This is also a petition filed against a Prime Minister who concealed his assets,” said Naeem Bokhari.

Naeem stated that the Prime Minister had made no mention of the Qatari letter before in his speech in the parliament.

Justice Ijaz Afzal stated that both sides had submitted documents which could not be confirmed through verified sources. He stated that the documents bearing the signature of Maryam Nawaz were termed fake by her while PTI claimed they were genuine.

“Should we consider ourselves above the law while operating? Can these documents be considered as evidence? The court has always taken decisions keeping in mind uncontroversial acts,” said Justice Ijaz Afzal.

Before concluding his arguments, Naeem Bokhari stated that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had not demonstrated honesty. He claimed that the Qatari prince had not been mentioned before in the speeches of the Prime Minister and just like the Gillani case, he was asking for a declaration from the court.

“Since 1980 to 2004, the Qatari prince was acting as a bank,” said Naeem Bokhari. “The Qatari has said that he has paid the liability. How was such a huge amount transferred without a bank?”