Imran Khan in eye of storm over ‘vile’ comments about foreign PSL players

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan was at the receiving end on Monday after a video surfaced in which the party leader made derogatory comments about international players who attended the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final in Lahore.
In what seems to be an internal party meeting, Khan is seen branding international players who came for the PSL final as ‘phateechar’.

“I don’t even know the name of any of these so-called foreign players. It seems they just picked up players from wherever. Picked some from Africa and called them foreign players,” said Khan.

The video quickly went viral on social media where the PTI chief was heavily censured for using ‘vile’ and ‘racist’ language against foreign players, such as Darren Sammy who helped make the event a success.

Two army men killed during operation in Swabi

ISLAMABAD: Two Pakistan Army officials, including a captain, were killed during an exchange of fire on Tuesday in the Malikabad area of Swabi.

Security forces were conducting an intelligence-based operation (IBO) in the area when they came under attack, military’s media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

The deceased were identified as Captain Junaid and Sepoy Amjad.

Immediately after the incident, the troops cordoned off the area while the exchange of fire continued till the filing of this report, the ISPR statement added.

The raid was being conducted under newly-launched Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad which was initiated after a wave of terrorists’ attack across the country last month.
Meanwhile, at least five terrorists were killed in exchange of fire with troops in Swabi, ISPR said in a statement. “5 terrorists who were killed during an IBO in Malikabad, Swabi today were planning to target educational institutions and judicial complexes,” it said.

“Sacrifice of our Shaheeds will not go waste. Terrorist will be brought to their end and held accountable for their Fasaad,” the military’s media wing quoted Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa as saying.

According to ISPR, three terrorists were identified, including Majid alias Khalid, Yousaf alias Chota Khalid and Jawaad. All three belong to proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)’s Swabi chapter.
The TTP claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s clashes with the security forces.

In a message sent to media, TTP spokesperson Mohammad Khorasani said the outlawed terror outfit was involved in clashes with the security forces in Swabi.

A day earlier, five Pakistan Army soldiers were killed in cross fire as militants from Afghanistan attacked three border posts in Mohmand Agency. “Last night terrorists from across the border attempted physical attack on three Pakistan border posts in Mohmand Agency,” ISPR said.

Canada: Ahmadiyya Muslim youth doorknock to answer questions about Islam

“It’s an opportunity for Canadians to ask some questions about their faith, to challenge them, to know what exactly about their Canadian identity is important to them and how they reconcile that with being a Muslim.”

Muslim youth fanned out across Canada on Sunday, knocking on doors and handing out flyers to try to counter misconceptions about Islam at a time when they say fear of their religion is rising.

The initiative had been planned for weeks but happened to fall one day after rallies across Canada by those opposed to a Liberal MP’s Parliamentary motion to condemn Islamophobia, known as M-103.

Qasid Chaudhry of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association Canada braved the cold temperatures with his group in Barrie, Ont., Sunday morning as they knocked on doors and offered to answer neighbours’ questions.

He said that although the youth group does ongoing outreach, this particular initiative is especially important after six Muslim immigrants were shot to death on Jan. 29 at a Quebec City mosque.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions people have been getting about Islam,” Chaudhry said. “We’re trying to give people the idea that (ISIS) is not Islam. It is a religion of peace.”

Chaudhry added that he was born in Canada and he wants his neighbours to understand that although he has Islamic values, he also shares their Canadian values.

He added that the response from neighbours in the Barrie area had so far been “really good.”

“It’s amazing because a lot of times people are afraid Islamophobia is becoming a really big problem,” Chaudhry said. “It makes us feel that people don’t fear Islam, they fear these extremist groups.”

Safwan Choudhry, spokesperson for Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama”at Canada, told CTV News Channel that he believes it is important for Canadians to meet ordinary Muslims, rather than just hearing from imams.

“It’s an opportunity for Canadians to ask some questions about their faith, to challenge them, to know what exactly about their Canadian identity is important to them and how they reconcile that with being a Muslim,” he added.

Choudhry said outreach is important, because Canadians may not be aware that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association Canada is assisting in the fight against Islamic State radicalization, with their Stop the Crisis campaign.

Choudhry said there’s “no denying” that anti-Muslim sentiment, as well as anti-Semitism, is on the rise in North America and Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada wants to be on the front line of fighting against it.

A Forum Research poll of 1,304 randomly-selected Canadians taken in December found 28 per cent agreed they had “unfavourable” feelings toward Muslim people, while 54 per cent said they had “favourable feelings” and 17 per cent said they “don’t know.”

The number with “unfavourable” feelings toward Muslims was much higher than those with unfavourable views of First Nations (16 per cent), Asians (10 per cent), Jewish people (nine per cent) and black people (eight per cent).

The margin of error for the survey was reported as ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Dean Jones travelling to Lahore to watch PSL final

DUBAI: Islamabad United may have crashed out of the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL), but their coach Dean Jones has announced that he will still be traveling to Lahore to watch the final at the Gaddafi Stadium.

In the midst of mass withdrawals of the PSL’s foreign contingent, Jones’ announcement will be music to the ears of the hosts.

“We might not be in the final but we are committed to Pakistan cricket. Good luck to all teams still in play in the PSL,” said Jones.

But cricket is not the only motivating factor for the Australian to make the trip. He apparently is quite fond of Lahore’s famous cuisine.

“I will visit Lahore to support cricket in Pakistan but also to taste their delicious food,” he added.

Quetta Gladiators became the first team to qualify for the PSL final on Tuesday after defeating Peshawar Zalmi by just one run in a thrilling encounter.

It is the second straight year the Gladiators have qualified for the tournament’s final, although they will be looking to go one better than last year when they were bested in the final match by Islamabad United.



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.