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Thursday, April 16, 2020

Pak Cricketer will seek assistance, speak of Cricket - but they would fire shells at border !

At Sharjah on Dec 14, 1997, Saeed Anwar scored a century helping Pak chase Indian score of 239/7 and win the match in Akai-Singer Champions Trophy.  India Cricket is not the requirement – no need to play Pakistan – Kapil Dev nicely retorted to the request of Shoaib Akhtar for a fund-raiser and then Sunil Gavaskar commented that there were more chances of snowfall in Lahore than a Indo-Pak match happening in near future.   Akhtar may try to appear a statesman but first should talk to Cricketer Imran Khan first asking to act properly !

As Covid-19 rages, Cricket naturally is not the priority.  The biggest money-spinner IPL is not on.  The BCCI has suspended the 2020 edition of the IPL until further notice because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is understood that the BCCI has not set a new window yet for the tournament, which was to be held between March 29 and May 24 originally.  On Wednesday morning, all the eight franchises were informed of the decision by Hemang Amin, the IPL's chief operating officer. Amin told the franchises that, following the extension of the nationwide lockdown till May 3 by the Indian government, there was no possibility of hosting the event in the regular summer window.

The decision follows a meeting among the BCCI's top brass over a conference call on Tuesday evening. Among those involved in the discussions were BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, secretary Jay Shah, IPL chairman Brijesh Patel, BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal, and Amin.  This is the second time the BCCI has been forced to defer the IPL. Last month, just before the government put the country in a three-week lockdown, the board had pushed the start date of the tournament back to April 15. On Tuesday, Indian Prime minister Shri Narendra Modiji announced an extension of the lockdown until May 3, even as all domestic and international travel in and out of the country remained blocked. This made it apparent that there would be no chance of hosting the IPL in the foreseeable future.

Across the border, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday expressed the fear that the actual number of deaths from the coronavirus in the province is probably much higher than what is currently being reported. Shah said his suspicion was that many infections are simply going undetected. "Known deaths, where the patient tests positive and they die, are so far 41 in Sindh. However, you may have also seen reports about dead bodies being brought to hospitals, which experts say cannot be tested for the coronavirus," he told a press conference. He may have been alluding to reports like that published in the daily The News, which cited claims that more than 300 patients who were either dead on arrival (DOA) or extremely sick with “pneumonia-like symptoms” and died within hours of their arrival were brought to various public and private hospitals in Karachi during the past 15 days.

Former Pakistani first-class cricketer Zafar Sarfraz became the first professional player in the country to die after contracting the novel coronavirus.  The 50-year-old first fell ill earlier this month and was put on a ventilator at a hospital in Peshawar after his condition deteriorated. He is the brother of Akhtar Sarfraz, who played in the match at Sharjah in Dec 1997- he played in 4 ODIs for Pak.  The former Pakistan and Peshawar batsman,  died  last year, aged 43 after a battle with colon cancer.  A left-hander, Sarfraz played four ODIs   scoring 66 runs in four innings.

Foreign Minister of Pak, Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Thursday confirmed that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has decided to give a one-year relief to Islamabad as the country grappled with coronavirus pandemic. “Developing nations have been hit the hardest with the pandemic,” Qureshi told Geo Pakistan. The foreign minister’s remarks follow the announcement of the G20 nations on Wednesday to give one-year debt relief to world's poorest nations as they struggle to financially cope with the coronavirus pandemic. “Prime Minister Imran Khan had appealed to IMF for debt relief for developing countries which was accepted by the Fund. IMF has announced it would give one-year relief to 70 developing nations including Pakistan,” Qureshi said.

India  said the degree of seriousness of each member nation of the SAARC in collectively fighting the coronavirus pandemic can be gauged by their behaviour, in a clear reference to Pakistan's opposition to New Delhi's leadership in dealing with the crisis in the region. India's reaction came a day after Pakistan pledged to contribute USD 3 million to the SAARC Coronavirus Emergency Fund as proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi but demanded that any initiative to deal with the situation must be brought under the bloc's framework. On Wednesday, Pakistan boycotted a video conference of trade officials of the SAARC countries, saying such initiatives could only be effective if spearheaded by the group's secretariat instead of India.

Now read this too – with the threat of coronavirus looming large and intense shelling by Pakistan, villagers living along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir are struck between the devil and the deep sea. For the last month, Pakistan has targeted villages and army posts along the LoC and IB in the union territory killing and injuring several people besides damaging more than two dozen houses. While several attempts were made by infiltrators in the last few days to enter India along the LoC in Kupwara, Poonch and Rajouri districts of Jammu region with Pakistani army providing cover fire to them. There is heightened fear in the villages under the three districts especially after three civilians were killed last week in Kupwara due to shelling by Pakistan.

Whether it is Covid or normal times, Pak would be relentlessly pursuing its hidden agenda at the border but on International forum would seek help from India – and it is in this background that we do not get carried by requests from people like Shoaib Akhtar. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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