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Pakistan begins efforts to reach out to Trump team

It’s the winter of 1978 and Pakistan and India head for an ODI decider in Sahiwal.

Pakistan posts 205 runs in 40 overs. In response , India cruises to 183/2. They require 23 runs in the last three overs, as Sarfraz Nawaz runs to bowl to a six-feet-tall Anshuman Gaekwad, who is batting on 78 runs.

The ball is short and goes high over Gaekwad’s head, and straight into Wasim Bari’s gloves. All eyes are on Pakistani umpires Javed Akhtar and Khizer Hayat, but they remain unmoved.

Sarfraz repeats the act on the following three deliveries. Indian captain Bishan Singh Bedi is furious, and he waves to his batsmen to return to the pavilion.

This became the first ever ODI to be conceded. The next one took another 22 years, when England’s Alec Stewart cited pitch invasion and walked off Headingly, Leeds. Pakistan needed 4 runs off 61 balls to win that match.

Pakistan won the 1978 series against India 2-1 and Sahiwal never hosted another international game.
Pakistan’s first cricketing ruffian

It is hard to imagine that the unruly enactment by Sarfraz was without the consent of his captain Mushtaq Muhammad, or the complicity of Pakistani umpires. Whatever the case, it was Sarfraz who volunteered to become Pakistan’s first cricketing ruffian.

In fact, he thrived on his bad boy image and basked in the glory of an outlaw, a reputation that would forever stick to him.

As a kid, Sarfraz never considered playing cricket. At 17, he joined his family business and was involved in the construction of the cricket ground wall at Lahore’s Government College.

Explore: Pakistan cricket: A class, ethnic and sectarian history

But the 1965 war broke out and the construction was halted. Sarfraz joined a group of boys playing cricket on that same facility — and the rest, as they say, is history.

He made his first-class debut in 1967 and was picked for a county stint, before making his international debut in 1969.

His predacious swing in the nets had impressed Roger Prideaux, a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) touring side and captain of Northamptonshire.

Sarfraz blossomed under Mushtaq Muhammad’s captaincy, as the latter was altering Pakistani cricket’s psyche in the mid-70s.

Breaking away from his predecessors by bringing an aggressive and combative style of play, Sarfraz was becoming the perfect spearhead of this new Pakistani outlook.

In 1975, during the pre-helmet era, when Australia’s Jeff Thomson hurled a bouncer at Sarfraz in a game at Northampton, Sarfraz shouted back, “There is a grave vacant in the local cemetery”.

When Thomson came out to bat, Sarfraz dismissed him off a bouncer. At the time, Mushtaq was Sarfraz’s teammate at Northants and soon to be his captain.

In 1976, Pakistan embarked on a historic, year-long twin tour of Australia and West Indies. Mushtaq had realised that to beat Australia down under, Pakistan had to play on an even keel. Sledging was as important as cricketing skills to counter the Aussies.

Related: Of highs and lows: How Pakistani cricket changed forever

Pakistan had been beaten and bruised throughout the tour as they went into the final Test at Sydney.

Dennis Lillee, in his book Menace, recalls that he faced a Pakistani side with “a much tougher attitude, more aggressive in every area.”

Lillee and Gilmour fired bouncers and verbal abuses at the Pakistani batsmen. One of Lillee’s deliveries struck Sarfraz hard in the ribcage. He threw away his bat, walked to the leg-umpire to complain to him in an x-rated rant.

When Pakistan came to bowl, it was payback time. Imran Khan and Sarfraz brought out their own symphony of sweet chin music.

Mushtaq placed 19-year-old Javed Miandad at silly point, where he kept repeating to the batsmen, “Now he will kill you”, as Sarfraz and Imran bowled. Miandad would then sing songs from Urdu films.

Lillee complained, and the umpire warned Mushtaq of excessive aggression, but Mushtaq gave it a cold shoulder.

Imran and Sarfraz shared 18 wickets in the game, as Pakistan recorded their first win on Australian soil.

Later that year, Mushtaq joined five other Pakistani players to play for Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket (WSC) in Australia.
Forays in politics, commentary

Sarfraz was the first to start the trend of multiple retirements in Pakistan cricket. He became an outspoken commentator and critic once he finally retired in 1984.

Read more: Pakistan’s only cricket museum — Guarding the wicket for the Gentleman’s Game

He was a member of parliament under Ziaul Haq’s rule in 1985. He also served as vice chairman of the Punjab Sports Board under then chief minister Nawaz Sharif, who was also chairman of the board.

Later on, Sarfraz contested the election with a PPP ticket during Benazir Bhutto’s comeback trail in 1988. In 2011, he joined MQM.

WASHINGTON: With the arrival of a vanguard team in the US capital on Sunday, Pakistan launched a major diplomatic campaign to establish early ties with the Trump administration.

Some media reports claim that as part of these efforts, Pakistan is also considering the possibility of sending Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend US President-elect Donald Trump’s inaugural ceremony on Jan 20.

Officials at the Pakistan Embassy, however, say that while Special Assistant for Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi’s visit to the United States is the first of several planned in the early days of the Trump administration, it’s “still too early to talk about the PM’s visit”.

Mr Fatemi, who begins his official engagements in Washington on Monday, will also visit New York early next week for meetings with members of the Trump transition team. In Washington, Mr Fatemi will meet members of the new US Congress, elected last month, and officials of the outgoing Obama administration.

There are at least two people in the senior Trump team who are familiar with Pakistan and are aware of its importance in the fight against terrorism — the nominee for Secretary of Defence, James Mattis, and the proposed National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn. Mr Flynn, also a retired general, spoke about Pakistan’s role in the war against terrorism when he attended a qawali at the Pakistan Embassy in September.

But diplomatic observers in Washington say that while Pakistani visitors may find some ‘eager listeners’ both in Washington and New York, they will also have to face “some probing, if not hostile, questions from their hosts,” as one of the observers said.
Complications in bilateral relations

At a news briefing earlier this week, the White House described the US-Pakistan relations as complicated, telling journalists how President Barack Obama once expressed the desire to visit Pakistan but complications in the bilateral relationship prevented him from doing so.

And the incoming Trump administration’s election manifesto, so far their only official policy document, also highlights the complications that can continue to mar relations between the United States and Pakistan.

The document acknowledges the relationship as “necessary” but “difficult” but it also expressed the desire to “strengthen” the “historic ties that have frayed under the weight of international conflict”.

And in the next sentence, the document warns that the process of normalisation “cannot progress as long as any citizen of Pakistan can be punished for helping the War on Terror”. This, obviously is an oblique reference to the incarceration of Dr Shakil Afridi, who helped the US track down Osama bin Laden.

The document then raises a subject that sets alarm bells in Islamabad, Pakistan’s nuclear programme.

“Pakistanis, Afghans, and Americans have a common interest in ridding the region of the Taliban and securing Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal,” the document says.

At the White House, Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained how the Obama administration had dealt with the complications that prevented it from rebuilding the frayed ties.

“The US relationship with Pakistan is one that’s quite complicated, particularly when you consider our overlapping national security interests,” he said. “The relations between our two countries, particularly over the last eight years, have not been consistently smooth, particularly in the aftermath of the raid on Pakistani soil that President Obama ordered to take Osama bin Laden off the battlefield.”

Mr Earnest, however, said that while “President Obama’s conversations with his counterpart in Pakistan have been an important priority,” he was unable to visit the country.

“At one point in his presidency, I do recall President Obama expressing a desire to travel to Pakistan. For a variety of reasons, some of them relating to the complicated relationship between our two countries at certain times over the last eight years, President Obama was not able to realise that ambition,” he explained.

Mr Earnest noted that a US president’s visit to a country sends a powerful message to the people of a country “and that’s true whether it’s some of our closest allies, or that’s also true if it’s a country like Pakistan, with whom our relationship is somewhat more complicated”.

The White House official said that when President Trump begins planning his overseas travel, “he’ll have a range of places to consider, and Pakistan would certainly be one of them” because “this obviously is an important relationship”.

courtesy: dawn news

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