Would love for international teams to consider touring Pakistan, says Sangakkara

Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) captain and president Kumar Sangakkara said on Thursday that the players were “really, really impressed and very, very moved and we understand very, very easily how much passion there is and how the lack of international cricket is not a great thing for Pakistan,” a press release issued by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said.

The former Sri Lanka captain said that it is always special to revisit the matches he has played in Pakistan and the MCC team was very surprised and moved by the welcome they received in the country.

“We never expected such a big crowd for a first game against the [Lahore] Qalandars. When we got to the ground, we had almost 19,000 people, hungry to watch some cricket.”

The MCC team arrived for a week-long tour on February 13 — in their first visit after 48 years — to play one 50-over and three 20-over matches with domestic teams in the country including Pakistan Shaheens, Northern, Lahore Qalandars and Multan Sultans.ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER AD

“The message we will be taking back is about the warmth of the people, the welcome of the fabulous spectators who came to watch cricket, the passion the players and people have for it and our own experiences of playing here and travelling about in Lahore,” said Sangakkara.

“We would love for teams to consider coming here so that international cricket can finally come back to Pakistan in full force.

“It’s important that, when you are in a country on a tour, you’re not confined to a hotel, but you can go around and enjoy the city and the country you’re in,” he added.

The MCC team during its week-long tour visited the Lahore Gymkhana golf course, the Lahore Fort and had dinner at the British High Commission.

MCC captain Kumar Sangakkara shakes hands with a PCB official after the team's arrival in Lahore on February 13. — Photo courtesy PCB
MCC captain Kumar Sangakkara shakes hands with a PCB official after the team’s arrival in Lahore on February 13. — Photo courtesy PCB
The club played their first match against Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise Lahore Qalandars on Feb 14 at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore. The touring team won the match by four wickets. — Photo courtesy PCB
The club played their first match against Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise Lahore Qalandars on Feb 14 at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore. The touring team won the match by four wickets. — Photo courtesy PCB
The team was not expecting "such a big crowd of some 19,000 people, hungry to watch some cricket", said Sangakkara. — Photo courtesy - PCB
The team was not expecting “such a big crowd of some 19,000 people, hungry to watch some cricket”, said Sangakkara. — Photo courtesy – PCB
Sangakkara said the MCC team "absolutely loved" going to the Lahore Gymkhana golf course quite a few times during their visit.  — Photo courtesy PCB
Sangakkara said the MCC team “absolutely loved” going to the Lahore Gymkhana golf course quite a few times during their visit. — Photo courtesy PCB
The team captain Kumar Sangakkara playing golf at the Lahore Gymkhana golf course where he said the team was hosted with "amazing hospitality and warmth".  — Photo courtesy PCB
The team captain Kumar Sangakkara playing golf at the Lahore Gymkhana golf course where he said the team was hosted with “amazing hospitality and warmth”. — Photo courtesy PCB
The MCC team at a dinner hosted for them at the British High Commission on Feb 15. — Photo courtesy PCB
The MCC team at a dinner hosted for them at the British High Commission on Feb 15. — Photo courtesy PCB
The team on a visit to the Lahore Fort during their week-long tour of the country. — Photo courtesy PCB
The team on a visit to the Lahore Fort during their week-long tour of the country. — Photo courtesy PCB
The international players admire a statue of Ranjit Singh at the Lahore Fort. — Photo courtesy PCB
The international players admire a statue of Ranjit Singh at the Lahore Fort. — Photo courtesy PCB

Search for new FBR head begins

ISLAMABAD: Amid massive tax revenue shortfalls, the government has decided in principle to appoint new chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and five senior officers from the tax groups are in the run for the top slot, NNP has learnt from knowledgeable sources.

FBR Chairman Shabbar Zaidi is on an indefinite medical leave.

High-ups in the FBR believe that delay in appointment of officers at top positions in the board has caused uncertainty within the tax department leading to revenue bleeding on a daily basis.

At the same time names of officers that take rounds in the Prime Minister Secretariat for consideration to be posted as FBR’s new head include two officers from the Inland Revenue Service (IRS) and three from Customs Group (CG).ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER AD

The name of Tariq Mehmood Pasha of IRS, currently serving as Secretary Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan, is under consideration. Acting chairman and Member Customs Ms Nausheen Amjad is another potential candidate for the top position.

On the Customs side, potential candidates are Director General Customs Intelligence Zahid Khokar, Member Customs Policy Javed Ghani and Additional Secretary Finance Ahmed Mujtaba Memon are under consideration.

A source in the Prime Minister Secretariat told NNP that government has almost finalised the appointment of Haroon Akhtar Khan as Special Assistance to Prime Minister on Revenue likely to be notified in the next couple of days.

The premier has tasked the incoming revenue adviser to remove all officers with tainted reputation and replaced them with competent and honest officers.

Soon after Mr Akhtar’s appointment, the source said, a major reshuffle is expected in the IRS and Customs Group. “The premier want an end to corruption within the FBR”, the source added.

Last week, the former PML-N senator gave a briefing to the prime minister and his economic team and pointed towards policy failures as the contributory factor in the rising food inflation.

Mr Akhtar served as a revenue minister in the Nawaz Sharif government.

According to the sources, the prime minister has given a free hand to Mr Akhtar to carry forward the World Bank sponsored tax reform project, which is yet to be initiated fully despite lapse of projected target.

Similarly, the new adviser is also given a mandate to raise maximum revenue as part of compliance to the IMF programme.

Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan submits resignation

Attorney General for Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan on Thursday submitted his resignation to President Arif Alvi.

In his resignation letter, a copy of which is available with media, Khan said: “I note with profound regret that the Pakistan Bar Council, of which I am the Chairman, has demanded through its press release dated 19th of February 2020 that I resign forthwith from the Office of the Attorney General of Pakistan.

The federal government has also distanced itself from Khan’s remarks.

A copy of Attorney General of Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan's resignation letter. — Provided by author
A copy of Attorney General of Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan’s resignation letter. — Provided by author

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“Being a life member of Karachi Bar Association, Sindh Bar Association and the Supreme Court Bar Association, and having previously served as the Advocate General Sindh, the Attorney General for Pakistan and a judge of the High Court of Sindh, I stand with my brothers and colleagues at the Bar and I wish to reaffirm my faith in the highest principles of integrity and professional excellence that the Pakistan Bar Council has always stood for.”

In the conclusion of his letter, Khan said: “Accordingly I hereby resign from the position of the Attorney General for Pakistan and request to accept it with immediate effect.”

The development comes a day after the Supreme Court ordered Khan to tender an apology or come up with “some material” on the basis of which he made certain remarks that concerned members of a bench that is hearing a set of challenges against the filing of the presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

The order came after the top law officer had made a controversial statement, now expunged, about the apex court bench.

“As [a] certain statement was made by the AG about the bench yesterday, it would be appreciated if the material on the basis of which the statement was made is placed on record before the bench,” a visibly disturbed Justice Umar Ata Bandial said while dictating the order at the end of Wednesday’s hearing.

Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) vice-chairman Abid Saqi and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Syed Qalbe Hassan were also present for the court proceedings on Wednesday. The two had earlier condemned the attorney general’s statement and decided to move a contempt of court petition against Khan as well as Law Minister Farogh Naseem as the ‘highly objectionable’ statement (now expunged) was made in the law minister’s presence.

In a statement, PBC vice president had asked the attorney general to submit an unconditional written apology along with his resignation for his “unbecoming conduct”. The statement added that the PBC would not tolerate any government-sponsored attempt to undermine the independence of the judiciary and the process of dispensation of justice.

“Being most disturbed by the unprecedented behaviour of the AG towards the apex court,” the PBC stated, adding that it would file contempt of court petition against the attorney general as well as the law minister. Later, a contempt of court petition was also drafted but could not be filed in time.

Govt says Khan’s remarks were ‘unauthorised’

Meanwhile, a response submitted on behalf of the federal government in the Supreme Court, said the “oral statement” made by Khan on February 18 was “unauthorised, without instructions and knowledge of the federal government and the answering respondents, and totally uncalled for”.

“It is pointed out that the federal government of Pakistan and the answering respondents hold the superior judiciary for Pakistan in the highest respect and esteem.

“Accordingly, the federal government and the answering respondents dissociate themselves from the statement of the learned attorney general,” the response submitted by Law and Justice Division Secretary Muhammad Khashih-ur-Rehman read.

“The federal government and the answering respondents verily believe in the rule of law, constitutionalism and the independence of judiciary,” it concluded.

Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan

On August 31, 2018, Khan was appointed attorney general for the second time. He earlier served in the position during the tenure of the PPP government. He resigned from the post on April 2, 2010 after reportedly developing differences with the then law minister, Babar Awan.

He was commissioned as an officer in the Pakistan Army in 1971 and fought the 1971 war, but resigned in 1973. He became a prisoner of war in 1971.

He was appointed judge of the Sindh High Court in October 2000, but resigned from the position on Oct 3, 2001, to rejoin a law practice.