Gives away prizes, medals to players; Sarfraz made captain of Test squad
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Tuesday, expressing his pleasure over Pakistan cricket team’s marvels during the ICC Champions Trophy, said due to the policies of PML-N government, Pakistan now enjoyed the status of a fast developing country among the comity of nations.
He said when the Pakistan Muslim League-N came to power in 2013, the country was at the brink of default, with power shortage and terrorism plaguing the people.
But Pakistan embarked upon a journey of progress and prosperity with several development initiatives taken by his government, boosting its power, energy and infrastructure sectors, he added.
The prime minister was addressing a reception held here to welcome the ICC Champions Trophy triumphant Pakistan cricket team. He assured that his government would continue patronage of sports in the country.
Earlier, the Pakistan team led by skipper Sarfraz Ahmed were introduced to the prime minister.
The team was warmly received by ministers Marriyum Aurangzeb, Abid Sher Ali, Ahsan Iqbal, Ishaq Dar and Khawaja Muhammad Asif, advisor Irfan Siddiqui and others. Leader of the House in
Senate Raja Zafarul Haq, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique, federal cabinet members and a number of parliamentarians were also present on the occasion.
The reception was attended by Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Sheheryar Khan, Executive Committee Chairman Najam Sethi, Chief Selector Inazam ul Haq and former national cricket stars.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif asked Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shahryar Khan to not plead with any foreign team to visit the country.
“We are conquers of every ground. Don’t beg any team for a visit if they are not willing to come,” he said.
Expressing his confidence, he said time was not far off when all the international cricket teams would line up to play with Pakistan team at its homeland.
The prime minister recounted his childhood memories regarding the cricket game and the tips which were given to him for improving his batting.
He said scarcity of playgrounds was the main issue, which were usually occupied by teams of grown-up people. He assured that playgrounds with allied facilities would be constructed at all the union councils to offer facilities to the young budding players.
The prime minister said the power sector was now witnessing an unprecedented boom with the establishment of new power plants.
Similarly, a vast network of roads and motorways was being laid, he said, mentioning the Lahore to Karachi motorway and six-lane Hyderabad-Sukkar-Multan-Lahore motorway.
He said Gwadar and Khunjrab were also being linked through roads at a cost of about 1,000 billion rupees. The country’s growth rate was on the surge, which would soon touch the mark of 6 per cent, he added.
The prime minister said the backbone of terrorists had been broken and informed the gathering that he was told by the Azad Kashmir prime minister and the Gilgit Baltistan chief minister about the influx of visitors thronging the scenic valleys.
He said such a phenomenon was being observed during the last few years as the visitors were arriving Neelum and Leepa valleys and Khunjrab Pass. He said such prospects were also infusing new spirit into sports activities in the country.
The prime minister mentioned a particular incident of his childhood when they were forced to leave Railways playground. “Never felt so much pain on the Panama leaks or JIT, as we had felt at that time over our forced expulsion from the ground,” he quipped.
Expressing his resolve, he said Pakistanis were the conquerors of all fields and if Allah Almighty’s support continued, they would emerge successful in future as well.
The prime minister lauded the performance of the national team and addressed them as ‘leaders, heroes and the prime minister of the country’.
He said they only held titles but the players like them were the real heroes who had made the nation proud. “Like the whole nation, I have the same desire to meet you,” he added.
The prime minister also praised PCB Chairman Shaheryar Khan by narrating his long time acquaintance. He thanked the PCB chairman for apprising the gathering about his performance in a friendly match held in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1990 during the Commonwealth summit.
“I scored 36 runs and remained not out by hitting boundaries in a friendly match played by UK premier and Maldives president, besides other heads of state,” he added. The prime minister fondly recollected that he could not tolerate being targeted with a bouncer and often retaliated with a boundary or sometimes, it ended with his departure.
He said his daughter Maryam recorded his message for the team during his stay in Jeddah in which he had felicitated them over the final win.
Earlier on the arrival of the triumphant team at the
In his comments, Pakistan team captain Sarfraz Ahmed credited team’s collective efforts and nation’s prayers for their superb performance in the tournament. He also recited Naat on the occasion.
Team members Shoaib Malik, Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, the centurion during the final match, and Hassan Ali, the golden ball winner, recounted their experiences during the campaign for ICC Champions Trophy. Shoaib Malik and Azhar Ali hilariously mentioned the events helping their headway through the well competed final.
They also expressed their gratitude for the reception hosted by the prime minister. Fakhar Zaman informed that he had dreamt of being out on a no ball and getting a new lease of life, leading to score a century.
Hassan Ali said Pakistan was a peaceful country to host mega events and invited cricket playing countries to play here.
PCB Chairman Shaheryar Khan said the ICC Champions Trophy win was a first step in building the edifice which required much more in future.
He announced that Sarfraz Ahmed would now onward, lead Pakistan test team as a skipper.
He also invited the Indian team to play bilateral cricket matches as it would benefit the game manifold.
He announced that negotiations with Sri Lanka and West Indies were underway for hosting cricket series in Pakistan. The PCB chairman very fondly highlighted a past event and praised the cricketing skills of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.
Najam Sethi said there were many ups and downs during this long journey, but the Pakistan cricket revived under the directives and consistent support from the prime minister.
Now the prospects for holding international events were bright after the national team brought laurels to the country, he added.
In September, an ICC team would visit Pakistan, followed by Sri Lankan and West Indies teams, he said. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the prime minister gave away souvenirs, prizes and medals to the national team players and PCB office-bearers.
Pakistan cricket team had trounced Indian team in the limited overs one-day final match of the ICC Champions Trophy held in England in June by a margin of 180 runs after ravaging its renowned strong batting line and posting a formidable total of 338 for four.—APP