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Pakistan to start hosting Test matches again, a decade after attack

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(Last Updated On: November 22, 2020)

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials on Saturday told the Associated Press that Pakistan is ready to host international cricket tournaments again after more than a decade of having no home Test matches.

In 2009 a deadly terrorist attack was carried out on visiting Sri Lanka’s team bus, which brought an immediate halt to matches being hosted in Pakistan.

Now however, Pakistan is ready to welcome major cricketing nations to their country, said Wasim Khan, chief executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board.

He said top teams, including South Africa, New Zealand, England and the West Indies are expected to play in Pakistan next year.

“We’re working hugely in terms of building relationships, nurturing those relationships with (other) cricket boards,” Khan, told The Associated Press.

South Africa is due to visit Pakistan in January to play a two-Test series which is part of the World Test Championship, followed by three Twenty20s.

According to the report New Zealand is penciled in for three ODIs and five Twenty20s in September, followed by two Twenty20s against England in Karachi. It will be England’s first tour to Pakistan since 2005.

The PCB also plans a home series against West Indies in December.

“We’re also in discussions with Cricket Australia. They’re due to be touring during the 2022 season, we’re looking at them coming for an extended period of time.” Khan said.

When Sri Lanka’s team bus was attacked in March 2009, the doors of international cricket remained shut on Pakistan until Zimbabwe became the first Test-playing nation to play limited-overs series, at Lahore in 2015.

Meanwhile, Khan said that he also wants to organize a limited-overs series against Afghanistan sometime next year.

This comes after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, a former cricket captain for the country, visited Kabul and extended an invitation to Afghan national team this week.

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Kabul jolted by powerful explosion

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(Last Updated On: April 20, 2021)

A powerful explosion tore across Kabul on Tuesday night in what appears to have been a targeted attack on a convoy of vehicles belonging to the National Directorate of Security (NDS).

The incident happened just before 10pm on the Airport Road in the city.

According to sources, the convoy was targeted in PD15 in Charahi Shahid on Airport Road.

There have been no reports of casualties so far but damage was caused to buildings in the area.

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CENTCOM chief in midst of ‘detailed planning’ for counterterrorism ops

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(Last Updated On: April 20, 2021)

Carrying out airstrikes against terrorist hideouts in Afghanistan without a US troop presence in the country will be difficult but “not impossible”, the commander of US Central Command General Frank McKenzie said on Tuesday. 

Speaking to the House Armed Services Committee, McKenzie said he is in the midst of “detailed planning” for options for so-called “over the horizon” forces, or forces positioned elsewhere in the region that could continue counterterrorism strikes in Afghanistan. 

He said he plans to give Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin those options by the end of the month.

“If you leave Afghanistan and you want to go back in to conduct these kinds of operations, there are three things you need to do: you need to find the target, you need to fix the target, and you need to be able to finish the target,” McKenzie said. 

“The first two require heavy intelligence support. If you’re out of the country, and you don’t have the ecosystem that we have there now, it will be harder to do that. It is not impossible to do that.”

McKenzie’s testimony comes almost a week after President Joe Biden announced he was withdrawing all US troops from Afghanistan and that they would all be home by September 11 – the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. 

According to The Hill, Biden’s decision came despite repeated statements from US military officials that the Taliban was not yet upholding its end of a deal made during the Trump administration to reduce violence and break from al-Qaeda, as well as warnings about the potential for chaos in Afghanistan that could allow an al-Qaeda resurgence should US troops withdraw.

Meanwhile, McKenzie’s comments about the difficulty of intelligence gathering without a troop presence echo comments last week from CIA Director William Burns, who told senators the ability to collect intelligence on threats in Afghanistan will “diminish” with a US military withdrawal, the Hill reported.

On Tuesday, McKenzie also said he continues to have “grave doubts” about the Taliban’s reliability in upholding its commitments under the deal signed last year.

McKenzie declined to tell lawmakers how he advised Biden as the president deliberated the withdrawal, but said he had “multiple opportunities” to provide Biden with his perspective.

The Hill reported that speaking broadly about options to continue strikes once US troops leave, McKenzie said surveillance drones could be positioned in a place where they can reach Afghanistan “in a matter of minutes” or ”perhaps much further away.”

“We will look at all the countries in the region, our diplomats will reach out, and we’ll talk about places where we could base those resources,” he said. 

“Some of them may be very far away, and then there would be a significant bill for those types of resources because you’d have to cycle a lot of them in and out. That is all doable, however.”

Right now, McKenzie added, the United States does not have any basing agreements with Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan or other countries surrounding Afghanistan.

McKenzie also said there are a “variety of ways” to strike targets, including long-range precision fire missiles, manned raids or manned aircraft.

“There are problems with all three of those options, but there’s also opportunities with all three of those options,” he said.

“I don’t want to make light of it. I don’t want to put on rose-colored glasses and say it’s going to be easy to do. I can tell you that the U.S. military can do just about anything. And we’re examining this problem with all of our resources right now to find a way to do it in the most intelligent, risk-free manner that we can.”

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley are also scheduled to brief the full House and Senate behind closed doors later Tuesday on Biden’s plan for Afghanistan.

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Ghani launches major development program of 1,000 projects

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(Last Updated On: April 20, 2021)

President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday officially launched the start of construction of 1,000 infrastructure projects across the country.

Addressing an event to mark Good Governance and Human Resources Week, Ghani stated that the projects would be implemented in Herat, Kandahar, Balkh, and Nangarhar provinces at a cost of 5.7 billion AFN.

According to Ghani, development projects such as the construction of dams, roads, and bridges are crucial for improving the lives of people.

“Completion of these 1,000 projects is important for the trust of people and will be implemented across Afghanistan. Every citizen has a fundamental right to have access to services so that we can fulfill the government’s commitments to meet the challenges of the people,” Ghani said.

Highlighting the increasing violence in Afghanistan, Ghani claimed that the Taliban still continue to destroy infrastructure in Afghanistan.

According to him, the group has damaged infrastructure in Afghanistan worth $1 billion.

“The Taliban has destroyed dozens of bridges and culverts,” he said.

Ghani called on the Taliban to plant “flowers” instead of detonating mines.

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