Time to rejoice. Pakistan has not just successfully hosted the historic Test series — one that marks the revival of the five-day cricket in the country after a gap of one full decade — but has also won it quite convincingly. The Azhar Ali men defeated Sri Lanka in the second Test at the National Stadium Karachi by a huge margin of 263 runs while the first one played at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium had ended in a draw. Thus a 1-0 victory for Pakistan in the two-game revival rubber. Takeaways for Pakistan from the Test series are too many — the biggest one, of course, being the stamping that the country is a safe place for sports. The successful hosting of the series has sent a strong message the world over that the security situation in Pakistan is as good as any other cricketing nation and that it’s unfair, illogical and discriminatory for international teams and players to avoid visiting a country that loves cricket and that is brimming with cricket talent.
Opener Abid Ali and young pacer Naseem Shah are the discoveries of the series. The former has hit back-to-back centuries in both Tests of the revival series and is now in a position to match the yet-unmatched feat by former Indian skipper Mohammed Azharuddin of hitting three centuries in his first three Test matches. Abid has already held the record of being the only cricketer to have scored a century on both Test and one-day debut. Naseem Shah, on the other hand, has become the second youngest bowler in the world — and the youngest pace bowler ever — to clinch five-for in an innings of a Test match. And during the Karachi Test, Pakistan became only the second team in the history of cricket to have all of their top four batsmen score a century in an innings of a Test match.
While it’s a moment to congratulate the whole Pakistani nation, it is also time to thank Sri Lanka for aiding our efforts to bring big cricket back to our sports venues.
Ineligible BISP beneficiaries
The PTI government should be commended for taking steps to keep the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) safe from any fraud and misuse, and maintain transparency in the criteria for doling out sums under what is described as the largest social safety programme that caters to about 5.1 million needy families across the country. In a recent step, the Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division – under the supervision of Dr Sania Nishtar, the BISP Chairperson and PM’s Special Assistant – used the Proxy Means Test (PMT) methodology to ascertain the eligibility of BISP beneficiaries, and detected no less than 600,000 individuals with “improved socio-economic status”.
In line with the PMT methodology, the division carried out an analysis of the living standards of all BISP beneficiaries. The division then made its recommendations to the federal government, noting that the “demographic and socio-economic status, as well as the composition of households, change with time” and “some of these [BISP] beneficiary households have become relatively better-off” over time which necessitates that their names do not feature among those benefiting from the social safety programme. Thus, on the recommendations of the division, the federal government approved the removal of the mentioned number of individuals from the list of BISP beneficiaries.
Misuse of public assistance programmes and welfare schemes is pretty widespread in our country. It’s done without a shred of shame, and carried on without a tad of guilt. There are people who find it their right to do whatever good or bad they can to prove their eligibility to grab any doles. And there are people who believe cheating is an art and hardly hesitate in making use of this art to usurp the rights of those truly eligible. Unfortunately, the absence of watchful eyes among the authorities and the absence of a proper system to detect fraud encourage con artists and provide them ample opportunity to display their talent and skill. Dr Nishtar thus deserves to be applauded.
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