January 5, 2023

National Bank’s support revives Pakistan snooker


By Syed Khalid Mahmood 

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Although the top officials of the sports division of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) were unable to respond to the queries concerning their high-profile consultant, Wasim Akram, a former Pakistan cricket captain, they came to the rescue of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) by sponsoring the latest edition of the Nationals which was organized at the NBP Sports Complex in Karachi from December 28 to January 3. 

In the question-answer session during its media briefing held at the Karachi Club Annexe on December 24, the NBP functionaries had politely regretted the query regarding Wasim Akram who has been associated with the bank’s sports division as consultant for the last few years with his terms and conditions or job description having been kept as ‘secrets’ by their management.

The financial support to the tune of Rupees four million provided by the bank, however, to the cash-starved PBSA enabled the cue sports body to revive their domestic events and the NBP 47th National Snooker Championship 2023 was held successfully. 

The duo of Arif Taherbhoy and Naved Kapadia once more met the challenge of managing the event at skillfully and diligently. They were duly recognized for their organizational efforts. 

Mudassir Inamullah Khan, SVP/Divisional Head, NBP, and Kamran Khalid, SVP/Wing Head NBP, had done the honours on behalf of the bank by presenting the sponsorship cheque of Rupees four million to Jawed Karim, President, PBSA, at the end of the media briefing. Ali Asghar Valika, Patron-in-Chief of PBSA, alongwith other office-bearers of the association were also present on the occasion. 

Meanwhile Rehmat Ali Hasnie, President, NBP, was the chief guest in the prsentation ceremony in which a record prizemoney of Rs 525,000 was disbursed among the top performers. He presented a handsome purse of Rs two lacs to Sultan Muhammad with the winner’s trophy while runner-up Shan Naimat was awarded Rs one lac. Shahid Aftab collected a cash award of Rs 25,000 for registering the highest break (141) of the championship. 

Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, Chairman, PBSA, in his welcome address, acknowledged the support of all the stakeholders in promoting cue sports despite the crunch situation. The top officials of the PBSA as well as the NBP sports division were in attendance during the prize distribution ceremony. 

The one-week event witnessed plethora of upsets leading to the elimination of all eight seeded cueists before the title clash in which unseeded Sultan Muhammad, belonging to Sindh, emerged triumphant over Shah Naimat, a qualifier from Islamabad, in the final. 

With the fancied cueists have exited earlier, a new national champion was set to be crowned on January 3 as both the combatants were making their maiden appearance in the final of the National Snooker Championship. 

It turned out to be a fiercely fought duel and the 40-year old Sultan Muhammad won it 7-5 with the frame scores of 69-58, 16-105, 86-24, 4-85, 21-72, 32-70, 69-30, 61-39, 56-21, 62-41, 53-66, 69-0. 

Unsurprisingly both the finalists were engaged in safety first approach for the most part of an encounter lasting nearly seven and a half hours. The 28-year-old Shan Naimat broke the shackles occasionally with a break of 95 in the second frame and then chalking up another classy break of 85 a couple of frames later.

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January 4, 2023

Under-fire KMC accord befitting farewell to unsung hero


Pakistan News & Features Services

The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), which has remained in the spotlight more often than not for wrongdoings in the recent past, certainly scored a point by bidding farewell to one of their unsung heroes, Nadeemuddin Khan, in a graceful manner. He retired from service as Deputy Director at the age of superannuation on December 27. 

The farewell ceremony was organized by the corporation’s sports and culture department at the famous KMC Sports Complex, located at Kashmir Road, on January 3 which was also attended by senior officers, including head of the organization, besides media personalities and sports organizers.

The opening speech was delivered by Syed Khalid Mahmood, a veteran journalist, author and analyst, who precisely shed light on the career of Nadeemuddin Khan, recalling the early and mid of 1990s when the KMC’s sports and culture department was in the able hands of Saif-ur-Rahman Grami. 

“Those were the times when the KMC sports and culture department worked with incredible zeal and enthusiasm in its mandated territories. It was the golden period in their history as they undertook the arduous tasks with smile on their faces. Nadeemuddin Khan was an integral member of the team which earned glories for the department, the corporation and the city,” Khalid Mahmood recognized. 

“Although he worked under the shadow of his officers, he was always noted for his presence and contribution. He was one of those guys who worked round the clock many a times to complete the works assigned to him. Be it drafting press releases at office or supervising installation of tents at venues of various events he was observed carrying out the assignment most responsibly,” the senior journalist complimented. 

Dr Saif-ur-Rahman, Administrator, KMC, echoed similar sentiments while praising Nadeemuddin Khan, much to the delight of the now retired unsung hero, who was encouraged to continue a purposeful and fulfilled life in the coming years. 

While the KMC chief was generous in acknowledging his role in the many successful events organized by the corporation over the years, he didn’t accede to the request of the departmental head, Saif Abbas, for re-employing him on contract basis for some time to complete the unfinished tasks. 

 Nadeemuddin Khan, overwhelmed by the occasion, looked a bit emotional and nervous in his speech but he emphatically urged the authorities to extend support to My Karachi Games, masterminded by him, which has been delayed due to lack of seed money. 

Rehana Saif, Jamil Farooqui, Saif Abbas and Shahid Nawab were among the other speakers who lavishly commended Nadeemuddin Khan for doing a great job over the years. Syed Khurshid Shah and Naheed Abida, who have been his departmental colleagues for decades, were also in attendance during the ceremony.

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December 6, 2022

Alamgir Shaikh elected SABSA chief; vows to increase regional activities


Pakistan News & Features Services

The newly elected President of the South Asian Billiards Sports Association (SABSA), Alamgir Anwar Shaikh from Pakistan, has vowed to generate more activities at the regional level besides taking care of continental and global events during his tenure as its new helmsman. 

Alamgir Shaikh, who is currently the Chairman of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), was elected as the President of the SABSA for the next term of four years during its Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka on November 30. 

A notification from the PBSA confirmed the unanimous election as the SABSA President in the AGM which was convened on the sidelines of the recently concluded 2nd SAARC Snooker Championship 2022. 

Syed Mahboob, a veteran administrator from Bangladesh, having served as the Secretary General of the Asian Confederation of Billiards Sports (ACBS) for a number of years, has been elected as Chairman of the SABSA while Muhammad Abdullah, also from Bangladesh, Sunil Bajaj from India and Ziham Hussain of Sri Lanka were elected as its Vice President, Secretary General and Treasurer respectively. 

It may be recalled that Ali Asghar Valika, a former President and the current Patron-in-Chief of the PBSA, was the Founder President of the SABSA which was established to promote billiards sports in the SAARC member countries.

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November 12, 2022

Remembering Hanif Mohammad’s epic knock of 337


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan’s cricket team, after being according Test status, had registered victories over India, England, New Zealand and Australia during their maiden series and they did so against the West Indies too. But there was one drawn Test match sandwiched between these marvelous conquests which earned them more accolades. 

The Bridgetown Test of the 1957-58 series has remained itched in memory even after over half a century where the diminutive Hanif Mohammad led Pakistan’s rearguard action to earn an honourable draw from the jaws of a certain defeat. 

He batted for no less than 16 hours and 10 minutes which still remains the longest Test as well as first-class innings and it’s a kind of record which is unlikely to be broken in future. 

There have been quite a few triple centuries in Test cricket scored before and after him but his knock of 337 is still remembered and revered with awe because the innings was constructed under extreme pressure and all odds were stacked against him. 

Electing to bat, after Gerry Alexander called correctly, hosts West Indies rattled a huge score of 579 for nine before declaring the innings. In reply, the inexperienced Pakistan outfit, playing for the first time on the Caribbean soil, was routed for 106 in its first innings and follow-on was enforced with a gigantic deficit of 473.

With so much time remaining in the six-day Test, a massive victory for the West Indies looked the only real possibility when Pakistan began their second innings. But what happened on the next four days was beyond the wildest dreams of even the most patriotic Pakistani supporters. 

Quite miraculously, despite battling it out against a rampaging bowling attack, all the top-order batsmen from Pakistan applied themselves beyond expectations with Hanif playing the innings of his lifetime. 

Nobody had anticipated Pakistan to save the match under the circumstances but Hanif’s resolute defence combined with incredible patience proved every expert horribly wrong. His magnificent knock of 337, spread over a staggering 970 minutes, allowed Pakistan to post a Himalyan total of 657 for eight when skipper Abdul Hafeez Kardar made the token declaration in the last session of the final day.

All eyes were on Hanif, who was batting on 334, when play commenced after tea. He was 31 runs short of going past Len Hutton’s world record score of 364 and there was every possibility of him reaching the landmark as the tired West Indian bowlers came out for the final session. 

But Hanif, being a human, finally succumbed soon after resumption. He was the sixth batsman to be dismissed at the total of 626, having taken his team to safety. Just for the record, he was caught behind by Alexander off Denis Atkinson and his marathon innings contained 24 boundaries. 

 It would be interesting to add here that Hanif’s innings was reported to have lasted 16 hours and 39 minutes. The earlier records showed it as an innings of 999 minutes and it was quite a few years later when fresh research revealed a stoppage of play of 29 minutes due to rain and subsequently the duration of innings was adjusted to 970 minutes.

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October 12, 2022

Pakistan’s marathon man Mohammad Yousuf achieves massive target


Pakistan News & Features Services

Mohammad Yousuf, hailing from Muzffarabad, Azad Kashmir, and based in Karachi, has hit a massive target by having completed 150 half marathon within two years. 

Also known as the Marathon Man of Pakistan, it goes to his credit for having accomplished the feat of 150 half Marathon within a couple of years. According to details, nobody from Pakistan in the past had ever done 150 half marathons therefore 

Yousuf’s accomplishment merits greater recognition. He has become the first Pakistani athlete to do it. He was reported to have done 31 consecutive half-marathons in as many days of December 2021. It is interesting to note that Yousuf was declared a heart patient before he started running. 

His strong will power and the passion for athleticism have paid dividends as his heart problem seems to have receded due to his continuous running. He has become healthy and hearty without any surgery and now he is an acclaimed marathon runner of the country. 

Yousuf has also planned to visit Turkey to represent Pakistan in the Istanbul Marathon 2022 which is scheduled to be held there on November 6. 

“I am feeling so proud to be able to represent the country at the international level and I wish to leave a legacy in the field of marathon running,” the enthusiastic athlete confided in a brief chat.

Not afraid to work hard, the athletically-built Yousuf has set high standards and he's trying his best to fulfill his cherished dreams.

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September 8, 2022

Double-edged JK bridges gap between PBSA, KC


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

It took long time coming but finally there’s a thaw in relationship between the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) and the Karachi who worked together for decades before parting ways. 

Not surprisingly Jawed H Karim, the Honorary Secretary of the Karachi Club for the current year, who is also the President of the PBSA, has seemingly played the key role in breaking the ice which obviously augurs well for the future of Pakistan snooker. 

Recuperating after a successful surgery recently, Jawed Karim, also affectionately called as JK by his friends and colleagues, has set the ball rolling once more. Under his leadership, the Karachi Club has once again ventured into doing bigger things. 

The club has already acquired as many as four snooker tables of the famed Riley Aristrocrat brand for which a fitter will be flying in from England later this month. The Riley tables are being fitted and installed with all accessories at our historic Latif Amir Bakhsh Snooker Hall and they will be ready for use next month. 

The next edition of the prestigious Haji Abdul Karim Dhehdi Inter-Club Snooker Championship, offering record high prize money, as well as the Karachi Club League Championship will now be contested on the new tables in November-December this year. 

The Karachi Club, it may be recalled, had become the headquarters of Pakistan snooker when its charismatic President, Ali Asghar Valika, set off to revive cue sports in the country after taking over the leadership of the PBSA in 1988. The club gained prominence at the global level as it hosted flurry of national and international snooker events regularly for the next couple of decades. 

Then the tragic episode of allegations and politicking took place which caused rift between the leadership of the two bodies and the club, having become synonymous with snooker, suddenly shut its doors to the PBSA. 

Jawed Karim, elected unopposed as the PBSA President in late 2020 and also voted to the key position of Secretary of the Karachi Club for the year 2022, has stepped the move to restore the relationship in the larger interest of the sport. 

Pakistan snooker will benefit a great deal with this reunion as the PBSA will have the luxury of availing the club’s unmatched facilities for holding national and international events as was the case during the days of Asghar Valika. 

The PBSA did survive the interim period by holding their events at alternate venues because they didn’t have the option of going to the club which historically had been the home to Pakistan snooker. 

Let’s see if the PBSA and the Karachi Club will revive the annual Latif Masters Championship which used to be the most prestigious national ranking competition of the year. With so little time left they may not be able to do it during the current year. Now the question is whether the new set-up at the club in the coming year will be eager to continue supporting snooker.

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June 30, 2022

Khalid Mahmood’s hard-hitting speech highlights National Sports Conference


Pakistan News & Features Services

While almost every other speaker condemned the previous government, headed by Imran Khan, a former cricket captain, and blamed the outgoing premier for bringing about the downfall of sports in Pakistan, the noted journalist and author, Syed Khalid Mahmood, did not mince words in declaring that the so-called administrators and organizers, holding office for decades by hook or by crook, were chiefly responsible for the steep decline in country’s sporting standards. 

The occasion was the National Sports Conference, organized by Sports Journalists Association of Sindh (SJAS), at the Scouts Headquarters in Karachi on June 29. 

“Why criticize any Prime Minister or Head of the State for the debacle in sports when the entire system has flopped due to the mafia which has controlled sports for 75 years now? Prime Ministers come and go but the vast majority of these office-bearers of federations and their affiliated units occupy the chair for lifetime which is indeed a pity,” Khalid Mahmood felt. 

The speech, in which he critical of the role of the long serving officials of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA), was hailed as the one which brought to light the real facts instead of just talking about the departments and their role over the years. He talked more about the leadership aspect in sports and expressed the hope that better sense will prevail in future as far as running the sports bodies was concerned. 

The Chairman of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, hockey Olympian Islahluddin, former Test left-arm spinner Iqbal Qasim and ex-President, Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA), Prof Ejaz Ahmed Farooqui, were among the speakers besides senior journalists Rashid Aziz, Mirza Iqbal Baig and Waheed Khan. The proceedings were conducted by Asghar Azeem of the SJAS while the Secretary, Shahid Saati, proposed the vote of thanks. Shields were presented to the speakers at the end of the session of speeches.

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June 2, 2022

Railways annual sports gala kickoff at Lahore on June 4


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Shoaib Adil, General Manager of Railways’ Welfare and Special Initiatives and President Pakistan Railways Sports Board, has described sports as world’s most powerful moral and social power whose utility and importance has always been in every era since the ancient eras. 

He made these observations on the eve of Railways annual sports gala which start from June 4 at the Railways Sports Complex located in Lahore’s Garhi Shahu. He pointed out that while food, work and comfort were the necessities of life, sports were like a pillar which guaranteed the strength and stability of life.

“In every part of the world, people of all ages, gender and all status of life have been participating in sports whether collectively or individually,” he stressed. 

Shoaib Adil observed that in today’s era, while mobile phone or the smartphone was the source of wide relations and acquisition of knowledge, it had affected the human health as well and it’s imperative to divert the energies towards healthy activities overcoming the unnecessary utilization of cellular phones. 

The sports, he viewed, while serve as mean of providing peace, comfort and delight on one hand, these refresh the human mind on the other.

“In the field of sports, people make their practical lives successful and in view of this they have introduced 12 new sports academies in its Sports Complex where any person of any gender or age can take admission and make their living happy and healthy,” he said.

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