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Major changes in hockey team management ahead of Asiad



LAHORE: With barely a month left before the Asian Games start, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) in a surprising move on Sunday made four major changes to the national team management on the recommendations of recently-appointed head coach Olympian Shahnaz Sheikh.

The 19th edition of the Asian Games will be staged in Hangzhou, China from Sept 23 to Oct 8.

Dawn has learnt that coaches Rehan Butt, Mohammad Saqlain, Haseem Khan and Mohammad Ghafoor have been replaced with Shakeel Abbasi and Amjad Ali while Dilawar Hussain is the only coach of the previous management who was retained.

Moreover, another Olympian Saeed Khan was named manager of the national team.

When contacted, PHF secretary Haider Hussain confirmed the changes to the team management adding the changes were made on the recommendations of Shahnaz, who wanted like-minded team of coaches.

The changes to the team management had to be approved by the organising committee of the Asian Games and the process would start soon, Haider added.

Interestingly, just four days ago the Pakistan Sports Board issued a letter suspending all PHF officials and called for new elections.

However, the PSB in the said letter had said that the current team management (Aug 20) would not be changed. However, to the contrary while the PHF officials are still working, they changed the team management.

It seems Rehan and Saqlain were made scapegoats to make Shahnaz happy who is the nominated coach from the government side.

The PHF, it appears, bowed to the government to get its nod to continue with its remaining tenure (three years) and for this Shahnaz could play the role of a bridge between the federation and the government.

Before joining the national team as head coach just a few days before the squad left for Chennai to compete in the Asian Champions Trophy earlier this month, Shahnaz was a member of the prime minister’s committee, along with other hockey stalwarts like Akhtar Rasool and Islahuddin Siddiqi to scrutinise the performance of the federation.

The committee had recommended to the PM to remove PHF president retired Brig Khalid Sajjad Khokhar.

But later, on the recommendation of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Sports, Shahnaz was accepted as head coach of the national team by the PHF.

It is also learnt that the cash-strapped PHF will not make any payment to Shahnaz, as this matter is between Shahnaz and the PSB.

Meanwhile when contacted, Saqlain confirmed that he had received the new PHF instructions about his removal as coach.

Regretting that everyone concerned was moving in their own direction, Saqlain appealed to all the stakeholders to come together and find out the solution to the problems that had caused alarming decline of Pakistan’s national sport.

To a question, Saqlain said with just one month left in the Asian Games there would be several challenges for the new team management.


Also on Sunday, the PHF national selection committee, led by Olympian Kaleemullah, announced 36 probables for the Asian Games.

These probables will attend a training camp starting at the Naseer Bunda Hockey Stadium in Islamabad on Monday.


Goalkeepers: Akmal Hussain, Abdullah Ishtiyaq Khan, Waqar, Ali Raza, Abdullah Sheikh.

Defenders: Mohammad Abdullah, Arbaz Ahmad, Mohammad Sufyan Khan, Aqeel Ahmed, Mohammad Bilal Aslam.

Midfielders: Usama Bashir, Mohammad Murtaza Yaqoob, Arbaz Ayaz, Ahtisham Aslam, Mohammad Baqar, Mohammad Nadeem Khan, Mohammad Imran, Syed Shehbaz Haider

Forwards: Mohammad Imad, Afraz, Roman, Arshad Liaquat, Abdul Qayyum, Abdul Rehman, Waqar Ali, Mohammad Arsalan, Mohammad Umar Bhat, Abdul Hannan Shahid, Mohammad Shahzaib Khan, Abdul Wahab, Zikriya Hayat, Bisharat Ali, Rana Waleed, Hamza Fayaz, Abdul Rehman.

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2023


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India tells Canada to withdraw 41 diplomats: report



India has told Canada that it must repatriate 41 diplomats by October 10, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

Ties between New Delhi and Ottawa have become seriously strained over Canadian suspicion that Indian government agents had a role in the June murder in Canada of a Sikh separatist leader and Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who India had labelled a “terrorist”.

Nijjar, 45, was the president of Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara temple in Surrey, British Columbia and advocated for the creation of a Sikh state known as Khalistan.

India has dismissed the allegation as absurd.

On September 21, Trudeau called on India to cooperate with an investigation into the murder of the separatist leader in British Columbia and said Canada would not release its evidence for their claims.

India suspended new visas for Canadians and asked Ottawa to reduce its diplomatic presence in the country on the same day.

Last week, the Indian foreign minister spoke to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan about Canadian allegations of New Delhi’s possible involvement killing of the separatist leader in Canada.

Jaishankar said that New Delhi had told Canada it was open to looking into any “specific” or “relevant” information it provides on the killing.

Trudeau, who is yet to publicly share any evidence, said he has shared the “credible allegations” with India “many weeks ago”.

The Financial Times, citing people familiar with the Indian demand, said India had threatened to revoke the diplomatic immunity of those diplomats told to leave who remained after October 10.

Canada has 62 diplomats in India and India had said that the total should be reduced by 41, the newspaper said.

The Indian and Canadian foreign ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said earlier there was a “climate of violence” and an “atmosphere of intimidation” against Indian diplomats in Canada, where the presence of Sikh separatist groups has frustrated New Delhi.


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Imran’s life ‘in danger’, moved to lower class cell in Adiala Jail: lawyer



Former prime minister Imran Khan’s lawyer, Naeem Haider Panjutha, claimed on Tuesday that the PTI chief was moved to a lower class cell at the Adiala Jail last night and feared the ex-premier’s life was in danger.

Imran was shifted to Attock jail on August 5, 2023, after a court sentenced him to three years in prison in the Toshakhana case for concealing details of gifts he received as the prime minister of Pakistan.

After his sentence in the Toshakhana case was suspended by the Islamabad High Court, the government detained the ex-premier in the cipher case. He has since remained behind bars on judicial remand.

On September 26, Imran was shifted to Central Jail Adiala from District Jail Attock following IHC orders passed on a plea filed by the PTI.

Last night, the police ramped up security in the vicinity of the Adiala jail by deploying elite commandos and setting up additional security pickets to ensure foolproof measures. The decision was taken in light of recommendations by the Special Branch and relevant departments following a survey of Adiala Jail.

Talking to reporters in Islamabad today, Panjutha, spokesman to Imran on legal affairs, said Imran’s wife Bushra Bibi met the former prime minister in Adiala Jail today.

“There is danger to Imran Khan’s life,” he claimed. “Imran can be slow food poisoned … he is being mentally tortured and his movement has been restricted.”

Panjutha alleged that he had received reports last night that the PTI chief was moved to a lower class cell. “Security personnel has been stationed outside the cell and mobile phones have been taken for them,” he said, claiming that these were new ways of “breaking” Imran.

The PTI lawyer added that a petition pertaining to Imran’s conditions in jail was filed in the IHC and the application was fixed for hearing on October 5.

“There were objection [by the court] earlier that the matter has already but decided but no directions have been passed on Imran Khan’s health, which is a basic fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution,” Panjutha added.


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LHC orders Punjab govt to ensure PTI leader Hassaan Niazi’s contact with father



The Lahore High Court on Tuesday directed the interim Punjab government to ensure that contact is established between incarcerated PTI leader Hassaan Niazi and his father within a fortnight.

The order comes on a petition filed by Hassaan’s father, Hafeezullah Niazi, who petitioned the court to recover and allow a meeting with his son, who is in military custody.

Hassaan, a barrister and nephew of PTI chairman Imran Khan, was in hiding after the May 9 riots. He was arrested from Abbottabad on August 13 and handed over to the military for trial over his alleged involvement in the attack on the Lahore corps commander’s house.

On August 15, Hassaan’s father, Hafeezullah, filed a petition in the LHC seeking recovery of his son.

Two days later, a military official wrote to the police, requesting it to hand over Hassaan’s custody to the military for “trial by the court martial”.

Before the LHC began hearing the father’s plea, the police submitted a report in the court on August 18, detailing the offences in which the former was found to be allegedly involved.

The report was submitted by Punjab Additional Advocate General (AAG) Ghulam Sarwar while Justice Sultan Tanveer presided over the hearing.

The AAG informed the LHC in the hearing, “Hassaan Niazi has been handed over to the military”. He added that Hassaan was “named in the Jinnah House attack case and was a main suspect”.

The interim Punjab government told LHC in the hearing on August 26 that visiting a suspect in military custody was not allowed under any law.

Additional Advocate General Ghulam Sarwar Nahang stated in the hearing that the SC had already taken note of the trials of the May 9 suspects in military court and the question of the suspects’ meeting with family members was also pending before it.

He said proceedings in the high court on the same question of law would complicate the matter.

On September 28, barrister Faiz Ullah Khan Niazi submitted that 45 days have passed and since then the petitioner has been unaware of the whereabouts of his son.

In today’s hearing, a single-member bench comprising Justice Sultan Tanvir Ahmad ordered the Punjab government to establish contact between Hassaan and his father within a fortnight.

According to the written order, a copy of which is available with, the petitioner’s lawyer told the court his client would be satisfied if he was allowed to establish contact with his son.

According to the order, the government officials maintained that since the matter is still pending adjudication before the apex court, it is “in the fitness of the circumstances to adjourn the case till the decision is passed by the Supreme Court”.


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