Alex Hales weighs up Bangladesh tour options

NOTTINGHAM: Alex Hales has accepted he could be risking his England place if he pulls out of the forthcoming tour of Bangladesh.

The future of the tour was called into question after an attack on a Dhaka cafe last month saw 20 – mostly foreign – hostages killed, with the Islamic State group claiming responsibility.

However, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said last week that the tour, which includes three one-day international and two Test match fixtures in October and November, would go ahead as planned.

The confirmation followed a visit to Bangladesh by an ECB delegation, led by their long-serving security chief Reg Dickason.

However, no England player has yet publicly confirmed their willingness to tour Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, several British media reports have suggested that England limited overs captain Eoin Morgan is among those with ongoing security concerns.

Nottinghamshire opener Hales returned to form with an England ODI record 171 as England went an unbeatable 3-0 up in their five-match series against Pakistan at his Trent Bridge home ground on Tuesday.

But while his place in the one-day side appears secure, Hales’s grip on a Test spot is far less certain after a run of low scores.

“If you choose not to go to Bangladesh you’re risking your spot, particularly me,” said Hales after a century that was the centrepiece of a new ODI world record total of 444 for three.

“I’m still uncertain as to what to do. It’s going to be some tough decision to make in the next week or so.”

Chris Woakes has joined the likes of Hales, Jos Buttler and Liam Plunkett in refusing to commit himself, at this stage, to the Bangladesh tour despite the assurances of Australian security expert Dickason.

‘Tricky subject’

“It’s a tricky one,” he said. “We are having all the discussions with Reg, the security people, Straussy (ECB director and former England captain Andrew Strauss).

“I’m sure by the end of the series everyone will have to have made their minds up – and I’m in exactly the same boat.”

Warwickshire all-rounder Woakes, who has been transformed this season from bit-part player to an England regular, added: “You have to respect the security level that Reg has reported back on.

“It’s a tricky subject. People are going there to play cricket, and they want to make sure they feel 100 percent.

“I suppose a lot of people won’t know they are 100 percent safe until they get there. But that’s up to the individual.

“I’m sure by the end of the series, in a week’s time, everyone will know and have to make a decision.”

Following their extraordinary batting display at Trent Bridge, England won by 169 runs and paceman Woakes admitted to mixed feelings as he watched Hales, ably supported by Joe Root, Buttler and Morgan play a “special” innings in Nottingham.

“It gets to the stage in the dressing room where all the batsmen are cheering it and the bowlers are like ‘oh God’ because you know the opposition batsmen will have to come out hard at you,” he said.

“But at the same time it’s an opportunity to take wickets and that’s exactly how it worked,” said Woakes, who finished with figures of four for 41.

The series continues in Leeds on Thursday


‘Zarb-i-Azb an indiscriminate operation’: Bajwa briefs media on counter-terrorism efforts

RAWALPINDI: Director-General (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Asim Bajwa while briefing the media on progress made during Zarb-i-Azb said the operation was an indiscriminate one.

“The salient operational guidelines for Zarb-i-Azb were that it would be an indiscriminate operation, it would avoid collateral damage and it would be mindful of human rights,” Bajwa said.

“In 2014, the security environment when Operation Zarb-i-Azb started was such that the country faced various instances of terrorism,” he said. “There were 311 IED blasts, 74 attacks, and 26 suicide blasts in 2014.”

‘Afghan authorities did not take action against terrorists’

The DG ISPR displayed a map showing what he claimed was the concentration of terrorists in North Waziristan.

Map presented by DG ISPR Asim Bajwa showing concentration of terrorists in North Waziristan.
Map presented by DG ISPR Asim Bajwa showing concentration of terrorists in North Waziristan.

“No one could think of going to North Waziristan. It was the epicentre [of terrorism]. It was home to the largest communications infrastructure,” he said. The origin of most instances of terrorism was North Waziristan, he said.

“After the operation, when we cleared the valley, reaching Dattakhel and were moving towards the border, some terrorists came out from there via Afghanistan and reached the fringes of Khyber Agency.”

“Before we started the operation, Pakistan had informed all stakeholders ─ political, diplomatic and military ─ of the operation. The Afghan president, political govt, military leadership, Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan were all informed of the operation and requested that if terrorists cross the border, they would have to catch them.

“They are your people, you will have to take action against them. But that didn’t happen,” Bajwa said.

‘Killed 900 terrorists during Khyber ops’

“When the terrorists went towards Khyber Agency, we relocated some forces from the North Waziristan operation [to Khyber] and conducted operations Khyber I and Khyber II.”

“We recovered weapons, ammunition, IEDs, explosives, communications equipment, hate literature and discovered tunnels,” he said.

“There was enough explosive material there to carry out five IED blasts every day for 21 years. They could have caused 134,000 casualties with the amount of material we recovered.”

“North Waziristan has very challenging terrain but despite that, our armed forces went there and cleared all their hideouts, caves and tunnels. But Khyber was even more challenging. It has snowy mountains and was home to hideouts from the Afghan war and had a very high density of IEDs.”

The Army killed 900 terrorists during the Khyber operation, Bajwa said, and dismantled the network of terrorists that was threatening areas in the immediate surroundings, such as Peshawar.

‘Shawal is like Switzerland now’

“We started operations in Shawal, where all the terrorists from North Waziristan went. It was their last stronghold and they had nowhere to go after that. The operation went well and we cleared every village, every house, every school and every mosque in Shawal.”

“Shawal is like Switzerland now,” Bajwa claimed. “The residents are slowly returning, but they want the Army to stay on and provide stability and revive the economy. Pine nuts are grown in great quantities there. Terrorists were selling them to fund themselves, but now the locals will benefit.”

Border management: armed deployment low on Afghan side of border

There are 18 major crossing points between Pakistan and Afghanistan along the 2,600-kilometre-long shared border, Bajwa said. “We wanted to seal those areas so that terrorists from this side of the border don’t go there and vice versa,” he said.”

“Lots of terrorists who crossed into neighbouring districts in eastern Afghanistan have built concentration camps.”

“After clearing Fata… We began emphasising border management and the Torkham Gate was part of that. There will be proper gates made at all crossing points in addition to immigration staff posts,” the DG ISPR said. He also said hundreds of small posts will be set up where FC forces will be deployed.

“Additional FC wings will be raised, but until that happens, Army troops will provide reinforcement in many areas.”

“Other related agencies, including Nadra, will have staff posts and crossing will only be possible using valid documents on both sides of the border,” he said.

“We have posts along the border and have our own forces reinforcing the Frontier Corps, but the same kind of deployment doesn’t exist on the Afghan side of the border. Because of that void, there is a lot of presence and movement of terrorists there.”

“There will be a lot of patrolling to ensure no one can cross the border illegally. It will take time, but we are moving ahead steadily,” he said.

CM Sindh promises August 22 perpetrators will be punished

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has promised that miscreants involved in August 22 attack on media houses in Karachi will be punished.

Addressing a ceremony for promoted police officers at Central Police Office on Thursday, Murad Ali Shah also said that investigation in famous Qawwal Amjad Sabri murder case was underway.

Commenting on the powers of local government representatives, CM Sindh said they would be allowed all the powers as per Sindh Local Government Act 2013, however, he said that no prisoner would be given special treatment by virtue of his designation, referring to jailed Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar.

Murad Ali Shah said Karachi operation will succeed only when Sindh police learn to stand on their own feet.

He said peace in Karachi will only be possible when police are equipped with the training and expertise needed to enable peace and security in the region.

The chief minister called for a special budget to be allocated for police training, saying that the police needed more funding to carry out investigations more effectively.

Discussing Karachi security situation, CM Murad said that there had been a visible drop in street crime incidents across the city during August. He, however, said that it was not possible to completely eradicate street crimes from the city.

“Street crimes cannot be eradicated but they can be controlled,” he said.

Opposition submits new draft bill to probe PanamaLeaks

ISLAMABAD: Rejecting the government bill, the opposition on Wednesday submitted a new draft bill — ‘The Panama Papers Inquiry Act 2016 — in the Senate Secretariat for constituting a commission of inquiry to probe the PanamaLeaks’ revelations.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader and Opposition Leader in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan drafted the bill that was also endorsed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

Aitzaz Ahsan, along with Senator Farhatullah Babar and PPP Information Secretary Qamar Zaman Kaira, submitted the bill in the Senate Secretariat.

Talking to newsmen there, Aitzaz said Pakistan’s money was secretly transferred outside the country and this scam was not leaked by any political party but a renowned international organisation. “Investigations should be made against all those 630 persons, who were named in the PanamaLeaks,” he added.

He said the investigations should be made by a commission comprising judges of the Supreme Court. “The investigation of assets could not be possible without forensic audit and that was the reason that forensic audit was proposed in the draft bill to trace the money sent outside of the country,” he added.

However, he said, the government was avoiding the forensic audit. “We have submitted the bill in the Senate Secretariat on the behalf of the combined opposition and there is no discrimination for anyone and want that the accountability must be started from the prime minister,” he added.

He said under the bill the Government of Pakistan shall be obliged by law to fully assist the investigation by extending all necessary financial, legal, diplomatic support, including obtaining cooperation from other states and various international agencies, for conducting the investigation.

To a question regarding the return of the PTI petition by the Supreme Court, Aitzaz Ahsan said if there was a prime minister from the PPP and his name was in the Panama Papers, then the earth would have been shaken.

He said there was allegation on Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani that he did not present the President of Pakistan to the foreign court.

“The son of the prime minister made the deal of property of billions of rupees, and in case if any son of a PPP leader had done it then NAB and FIA would have been making all-out efforts to arrest him,” he added.

He said no suo moto notice has been taken on the PanamaLeaks even the suo moto notices were given on keeping of two bottles of liquor. “The Supreme Court registrar did not have the authority to reject the petition,” he added.

‘Zamung Kor’ project to be opened on Nov 25: CM

PTI chief calls for transparency in implementation of project

Chief Minister Pervez Khattak on Wednesday announced to inaugurate the provincial government’s proposed project “Zamung Kor” for the welfare and prosperity of the street children on November 25.

He said that Rs157 million grants in aid had already been released for the project and the government would arrange land for it.

The chief minister directed the authorities to frame rules and regulations for immediate completion of the project.

He was presiding over a meeting at Chief Minister’s House to review progress on “Zamung Kor”. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan also attended the meeting.

The chief minister said that the basic purpose of the project was to impart better education and training to street children. “The establishment of a prosperous society is a challenge for us,” he added.

He said street children were also a part of the society and they had equal rights. He said the government would have to play their role for the welfare and prosperity of the street children.

Pervez Khattak said the government would chalk out a plan to provide better education to the street children, who were ignored in the past.

“The street children would be made useful citizens by providing them good education,” he maintained.

The chief minister directed the officials to construct sports ground so that the street children could also take part in sports activities. He also called for making security arrangements for street children.

Pervez Khattak said the government would not compromise on the quality of education and other facilities being provided to the street children. Talking to reporters after the meeting, Imran Khan said it was the collective responsibility of society to work for the welfare of the oppressed and down-trodden people. He said that street children had also the same rights and the provincial government would spare no effort to provide them facilities so that they could be made useful citizens.

The PTI chief called for ensuring transparency in the implementation of the project. “The donors would play their role when they are sure about the transparency of the projects,” he stressed.

He said the donors would lose confidence if they felt there was no transparency.

Citing example of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, Imran Khan said that the entire world had witnessed its quality and transparency.

Imran Khan said that street children were hard working because they were passing through difficulties in life. He said it was need of the hour to concentrate on improving natural capabilities of street children.