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Pakistan-made soccer balls shine in FIFA World Cup

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KARACHI:

Just a week ago, millions of Pakistanis came out of the cricket fever with their team standing second in the Twenty20 World Cup held in Australia. Now, sports fans are looking ahead, with a raging football fever gripping the otherwise cricket-crazed country as the 2022 FIFA World Cup rolls on in Qatar.

In Siddique Goth, a suburban locality of the country’s commercial capital Karachi, streets are festooned with man-sized portraits, and posters of soccer stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Neymar Jr.

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A couple of streets are also dotted with posters of Egyptian wing wizard Mohamed Salah, although the North African nation could not qualify for the finals.

Flags of leading football nations like Brazil, Argentina, Germany, England, Portugal, and the host Qatar can be spotted in the locality.

A large screen has been set up by residents at a busy square to watch the slogs together.

Nestled in the outskirts of Karachi’s Malir district, the remote neighborhood is also known as mini-Qatar because hundreds of area youths – ethnic Balochs – are working in the wealthy Gulf state.

Brazil is by far the favorite squad of local football lovers, while European sports juggernaut, Germany stands second.

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“Neymar is going to rock this time,” Nasir Baloch, a local footballer, told Anadolu Agency.

Meanwhile, Sagheer Baloch, a schoolteacher, sees Germany as a favorite.

“The professionalism and coolness that the game of football requires, German players are embedded with them,” Sagheer, a fan of Spanish horsepower, Barcelona, opined.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, he counts on captain and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, Kevin Trapp and Marc-Andre ter Stegen to turn the tables in favor of Germany.

Mini Brazil

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Football is a popular sport in the otherwise cricket-loving Pakistan, particularly in rural areas. Yet, the national team is ranked 200th in the FIFA world rankings.

Straddling the edge of the Arabian Sea, Lyari, a small shantytown south of Pakistan’s commercial capital Karachi, has long been a poster child for gang wars and drug trafficking.

However, it is also known as “mini Brazil” among soccer fans for the talented male football players that this run-down locality has produced over the decades.

“Lyari has always supported Brazil. They (locals) consider it their own team,” Ahmad Jan, who coaches Lyari’s girls’ football team, said.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Jan said Argentina is another favorite team in Lyari but “of course nowhere close to Brazil.”

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“Football runs in our blood. We will congratulate any team that would win the title but our inclination towards Brazil is unchangeable,” he maintained, smiling.

At present, he said, Neymar, Salah, and Messi are most popular among the local youths.

T-shirts plastered with the faces of the three players are in high demand nowadays in Lyari, where drum-beating youths took out a rally last week to celebrate the beginning of the event.

The Brazilian national flags can also be spotted fluttering on the roofs of dozens of houses across Lyari.

Home to 1.5 million people, mainly Baloch, the area has over the last 74 years produced a large number of players who have won many titles for the country, especially between the 1950s and 1960s, known as the golden era of Pakistan’s football team.

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Nonetheless, lacking glamor and government funding, while having to deal with intra-federation schisms and land-grabbing mafia who have been sweeping up sports grounds, football in Pakistan has gradually declined from its previous rank as fourth on the Asian continent in the 1960s.

In April last year, FIFA suspended the Pakistan Football Federation’s membership for six months, citing a hostile takeover of the federation’s head office by a rival group.

The action was taken when the group refused to vacate the office and hand it over to a FIFA-approved group.

The membership, nonetheless, was restored by FIFA after a period of over a year in July this year.

Pakistan-made football to shine in event

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Aside from their love for the sport, Pakistanis will have a special reason to rejoice, although their team is not participating in the event.

Together with China, Pakistan is supplying soccer balls to be used in the forthcoming mega event, which this time will be held in the winter instead of the summer due to the hot weather in the Qatari capital.

Named “Al-Rihla,” an Arabic word for “The Journey,” the official match ball for the 2022 World Cup was unveiled in March by Adidas in Doha.

Nestled on the outskirts of the northeastern city of Sialkot, Forward Sports, which also makes footballs for the German Bundesliga, the French league, and the Champions League, has manufactured Al-Rihla for the mega event.

The company was also the official football provider for the 2014 and 2018 World Cups in Brazil and Russia.

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The city, which borders India, has been famous for producing the finest quality sports goods and has been supplying footballs for mega-events for a long time.

Production of high-quality footballs is not Sialkot’s only forte. It also exports sports goods ranging from cricket bats to hockey sticks and from shining (cricket and hockey) balls to other accessories like kits, shoes, and gloves.

The country earns $1 billion annually from sports goods exports, including $350 million to $500 million from footballs alone.

The soccer ball being used in the tournament is technically called “thermo bonded,” which was first introduced in the 2014 World Cup.

Before that, Pakistan had supplied hand-stitched soccer balls for most of the World Cups from the 1990s to 2010.

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Thermo-bonded balls are made by attaching the panels through heat – the latest technology adopted by Adidas and transferred to Forward Sports in 2013. There are no stitches.





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Pakistan

Imran’s right of defence struck out in defamation case

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ISLAMABAD:

Additional District Judge Lahore Chaudhry Muhammad Asif struck out the right of defence of former prime minister since concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff were not submitted on Thursday.

“This court has been left with no option except to strike out the right of defence of the defendant (Imran Khan) in this case due to non-submission of requisite replies by the defendant regarding concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff. So, the right of defence of the defendant is hereby struck out in this case accordingly,” the order stated.

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The court asked the plaintiff to submit a list of witnesses on November 29.

It has been learned that the court has so far conducted 78 hearings of the case.

The order stated that the counsel for the defendant submitted an application for adjournment on the ground that the defendant was going to file a revised petition against the order of the court regarding the dismissal of concerned objections of the defendant.

Also read: ‘No objections’ to Imran’s helicopter landing at Parade Ground: GHQ

“From the perusal of record, it reveals that various reasonable opportunities have been provided to defendant to submit the requisite replies to concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff but the defendant has not done the needful,” it stated.

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“Vide previous order dated 17.11.2022, one more opportunity was granted to the defendant in this regard with the clarification that in case of submission of requisite replies from the defendant’s side regarding concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff on the next date, the right of defence of the defendant shall be struck out. No lawful justification exits for the grant of further adjournment,” it added.

The court rejected the adjournment plea of Imran’s counsel.

According to details, the defamation suit states that Imran started uttering false and malicious statements against the plaintiff (Shehbaz) that the latter offered Rs10 billion to the former through a common friend in exchange of withdrawing the case of Panama Papers pending before the Supreme Court (SC).

Also read: President Alvi in Lahore to consult Imran over COAS appointment

​​​It pleads that the baseless and defamatory statements by the defendant widely circulated by media lowered the integrity of the plaintiff and caused him extreme mental torture, agony and anxiety. The court has been requested to issue a decree for recovery of Rs 10 billion as compensation for the publication of defamatory content in favour of the plaintiff.

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In his written statement, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief states that one of his friends told him that someone known to him and also the Sharif family approached him with an offer to pay billions of rupees if he could convince him to stop pursuing the Panama Papers case.

Imran says that he disclosed the incident for the consumption of the public at large and in the interest of the public good does not constitute any defamation.





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Pakistan to send armed helicopter unit to UN peacekeeping mission

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UNITED NATIONS:

Pakistan and Bangladesh will each be sending an armed helicopter unit to the UN peacekeeping operations in Mali, which faces serious problems as several countries have withdrawn or announced plans to pull out their personnel, a UN spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Spokesman Farhan Haq said that India will supply a utility helicopter unit to the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, and all three are expected to be deployed by March next year.

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“These provide much-needed support to our forces and are critical for early warning and rapid response to protect civilians,” the spokesman told reporters at the regular noon briefing at the UN headquarters in New York.

“The UN continues to discuss with member states the deployment of new assets and plans to fill longer-standing gaps in addition to those resulting from recent announcements” of withdrawals, he said.

Set up in 2013, MINUSMA has 17,622 personnel helping the Malian government combat terrorists operating in the country.

MINUSMA is one of the deadliest operations having claimed the lives of 292 peacekeepers.

France completed its withdrawal earlier this year and it was followed by Egypt in August.

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Germany said that it was withdrawing its personnel, who numbered 595 in the latest UN roster, from MINUSMA by May next year.

Also read: Who is country’s new army chief Asim Munir?

Britain is also pulling out its 249 personnel.

Ivory Coast also said that it would discontinue the participation of its personnel, who numbered 898, in MINUSMA when the current deployment ends because of a separate dispute with the Mali government over the arrest of its soldiers who went there on a mission unconnected to the UN.

Despite the dangerous nature of the Minusma, Pakistani military doctors serving in Mopti, a town in the fifth administrative region of Mali. have continued to serve, earning praise for their work. They operate a state-of-the-art hospital staffed with 75 medical personnel, including 10 women and 65 men, according to the UN.

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The hospital operates 24 hours a day, every day, and they are always on alert. All specialities are covered, from pharmacy to gynaecology. However, its main purpose is to perform life-saving and urgent surgery when peacekeepers are injured, it was pointed out.





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Imran urges ‘all Pakistanis to participate’ in PTI long march

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Former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday urged all Pakistanis to participate in his party’s much-hyped long march on Saturday (Nov26) in what appears to be his final showdown with the incumbent government to force it to announce early election date.

“Dear Pakistanis, I want all of you to participate in our haqeeqi long march in Pindi at 1pm on Saturday,” he said in a short video statement.

Imran, who was removed from power through a vote of no confidence in April, said that only a nation which has justice in it will get real freedom. “When there is justice, there are rights. When there are rights, a nation is free. Only an independent nation is prosperous,” he went on to say.

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Read more: Interior ministry warns PTI of threats, urges postponing Pindi march

The former premier said that the nation will not stay silent until it gets real freedom. “I am coming for you despite my [health] condition and all of you need to come to Pindi for me,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, senior PTI leader Asad Umar presided over a meeting regarding the party’s preparation for the long march in Rawalpindi. Senior PTI leadership including Umar Ayub, Shibli Faraz, Ali Nawaz and others participated in the meeting.

The meeting discussed the overall preparations for the long march in Rawalpindi. The security plan, long march route and other significant matters came under discussion during the meeting.

The meeting was briefed that a caravan had left from Karachi for Rawalpindi whereas two others were ready to begin their journey to the garrison city from Quetta and Gilgit-Baltistan.

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A briefing was also given in the meeting regarding the accommodation of the participants.

Issues regarding the provision of all basic needs including food and accommodation to the participants of the march were also discussed in the meeting.

“The nation is fully united and eager to achieve real freedom,” Umar said, adding that the party would welcome caravans from all over Pakistan in Rawalpindi.

“The captain [Imran Khan] will lead the ocean of people in Rawalpindi on November 26,” he further said.





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