Top ACB, BCCI officials meet; discuss development of cricket in Afghanistan


Syed Zafar Mehdi

The top officials of the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) held a meeting with Anurag Thakur, the secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) this week.

According to a statement issued by the ACB, the discussions revolved around the development of cricket in Afghanistan.

Nasimullah Danish, the chairman of ACB, said the board is committed to developing cricket in the strife-torn country with the assistance of India.

While Afghanistan is fast emerging as a powerful cricketing giant in this part of the world, Indian cricket board has cemented its position as the powerhouse of world cricket.

Almost 70 percent of the International Cricket Council’s global revenue comes from India.

While Afghanistan is fast emerging as a powerful cricketing giant in this part of the world, Indian cricket board has cemented its position as the powerhouse of world cricket

“We want the support of India to develop cricket in Afghanistan. The support of India will further strengthen the game in Afghanistan,” Mr. Danish said.

Shafiqullah Stanikzai, the chief executive officer of ACB, said the BCCI has welcomed the suggestions proposed by ACB officials and promised to support cricket in Afghanistan.

The details of the discussions, he said, will be made public soon.

It was the first such meeting between the officials of the ACB and BCCI, which shows the growing relationship between the two countries.

In June, ACB had made a request to BCCI to allow Afghan players use the infrastructure in India and have one venue as the Afghan venue.

Mr. Stanikzai, during his brief meeting with Mr. Thakur on the sidelines of the annual general meeting (AGM) of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) in Kuala Lumpur in June, formally made the request.

According to sources in the ACB, the two officials discussed the possibility of Afghan players training at BCCI’s state-of-the-art cricket academies and using one venue in India as the Afghan venue.

Mr. Thakur, in response to the ACB’s request, said the Indian board is willing to extend all kinds of help to Afghanistan.

“Afghanistan Cricket Board has requested BCCI that they want to come and play here, use the infrastructure and also to have one venue as the Afghan venue,” Mr. Thakur told media persons in India in June.

“Their board has requested to create one centre in India which can be dedicated to Afghanistan cricket,” he confirmed, adding that the BCCI is “more than happy” to offer any help for the promotion of game in Afghanistan.

Mr. Thakur, who was elected as the honorary secretary of the BCCI in March this year, reaffirmed BCCI’s commitment to help Afghanistan in an interview with Wisden magazine recently.

Nepal’s cricketers are currently using the facility in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh. According to sources, Afghan cricketers might be allowed to use the facility in Ferozshah Kotla, New Delhi

He said the Indian cricket board has a bigger role to play in the subcontinent’s cricket.

“The BCCI has a bigger role to play in the subcontinent’s cricket, and through Nepal and Afghanistan, we are starting to do that,” he said.

“If we support them at this hour, they could be two good teams in the coming years and it will help improve the Asian circuit,” he added.

Nepal’s cricketers are currently using the facility in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh. According to sources, Afghan cricketers might be allowed to use the facility in Ferozshah Kotla, New Delhi.



ACC U-19 Premier League: Four straight wins for ‘invincible’ Afghanistan


Syed Zafar Mehdi

Continuing their winning streak in the ongoing Asian Cricket Council Under-19 Premier League, Afghanistan on Tuesday routed Saudi Arabia by 8 wickets.

In a match played at Bayuemas Oval, Kuala Lumpur, Saudi Arabia won the toss and elected to bat first. The odds, though, were heavily in favor of Afghanistan.

In a lop-sided contest, Afghanistan, which had already won three consecutive games against Kuwait, Nepal and UAE, required 158 runs to win their fourth consecutive match.

Openers Hazratullah and Naveed Obaid give their team perfect start, putting together 114 runs for the first wicket in just 10.3 overs before Naveed returned back to the pavilion.

Openers Hazratullah and Naveed Obaid give their team perfect start, putting together 114 runs for the first wicket in just 10.3 overs before Naveed returned back to the pavilion

After that, it was a mere formality as Hazratullah continued his explosive batting, smashing Saudi bowlers all across the park en route to his unbeaten 98 off just 60 balls.

Afghanistan reached the target in 16.5 overs for the loss of two wickets, earning them a comprehensive fourth straight win the competition.

Earlier, batting first, Saudi Arabia were bundled out for 157 runs in 39 overs.

Muslim Musa was the pick of bowlers for Afghanistan, claiming four wickets for 32 runs. Zia ur Rehman bagged three wickets for 40 runs.

Except for Farhan Patel (55 off 63) and Muhammad Zeyad (42 off 62), none of the Saudi batsmen managed to offered resistance against the top-quality Afghan bowling attack.

In a statement issued by the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), Chairman Nasimullah Danish and CEO Shafiqullah Stanikzai congratulated the team on four straight wins

Afghanistan remains on top of the table with four straight wins. On Thursday, they will take on hosts Malaysia.

In a statement issued by the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), Chairman Nasimullah Danish and CEO Shafiqullah Stanikzai congratulated the team on four straight wins.

“It shows that Afghanistan has great cricket talent and the future of Ccricket is bright in Afghanistan,” said Mr. Danish.

Mr. Stanikzai also praised the performance of the team and wished them more success.


“It is not a withdrawal, it is transformation”

Syed Zafar Mehdi

Heinz Feldmann, Spokesman of ISAF in Afghanistan, says the stage is set for a security transition in Afghanistan this year, but the ISAF mission in Afghanistan is not over yet.

Q. Since 2011, responsibility for security has gradually been shifted to Afghan forces and ISAF’s mission has changed from a combat-centric role to training, advising and assisting Afghan forces. Do you think it has worked? 
A. Last year this time, we had a big discussion with our partners, with our superior headquarters, whether the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) would be able to take the lead to provide security in the country. The Commander of ISAF raised three questions, whether they will be able to provide security for the country now, whether they will be able to provide security during the elections and whether they will be able to assume full responsibility after the end of ISAF mission. He answered all three questions with a clear yes.

Look where we are today, we have seen the security forces were able to provide security during the elections, which was a big success. They have proven they can do it. This is the success of ANSF and it gives a clear signal to people of Afghanistan that the security forces are ready to take full responsibility after the end of ISAF mission.

Q. Late last year, in an interview with BBC, President Karzai said and I quote, “On the security front, the entire NATO exercise was one that caused Afghanistan a lot of suffering, a lot of loss of life, and no gains because the country is not secure.” He said ISAF has failed to bring stability to Afghanistan. How do you respond to that? 
A. It is not upto me to make comments on the President of Afghanistan as ISAF Spokesperson. What we see is that we have come a long way since 2002. We have provided credible security forces, the society has moved on, there is remarkable progress and development in many areas, many people in this country are looking into the future with renewed confidence and that would be my response.

Q. The international community has paid a high price for its 12-year involvement in Afghanistan. According to data collected by the Brookings Institution, more than 3,300 coalition troops have died since the international community’s intervention in October 2001. It raises questions about the purpose and achievement of the military intervention, particularly since the security situation in Afghanistan continues to be volatile. What is your take on this? 
A. We came to Afghanistan to make sure the country will not be used as a launching pad for international terrorism in the future. That was the core reason why we came here. The international community has paid a big price and so have the Afghan people. This is a strong bond, as we both have paid a huge price. We are now committed to make this a success, to stay focused, to provide security. We are committed to address the losses and sufferings, and we need to make sure the price we have paid helps in bringing peace in this country.

Q. There have been reports about secret detention facilities in Kandahar and Helmand where Afghans and foreigners are detained by ISAF/NATO forces. A government committee has also confirmed the presence of these detention facilities. Do you agree it violates the Afghan laws since it is a sovereign country? 
A. ISAF is aware of the statements made by Afghan officials regarding detention facilities in Kandahar and Helmand province. We are waiting to receive the commission’s official report to better understand the basis of the allegations and findings. We continue to work with our Afghan partners to reinforce the rule of law and create conditions of safety and security for the people of Afghanistan. Every facility that is used by coalition forces for detention is well known by the Government of Afghanistan and operates in accordance with International standards that are routinely monitored by the International Committee of the Red Cross. We intend to continue to work with the Afghan government to resolve any detention facility issues and concerns.

Q. This year we will see the withdrawal of international forces. Do you think the proposed military exit has been choreographed well? Is it the right time to move on? 
A. We have no reason to believe they (ANSF) are not ready and they have proven that they can do it. There are some areas where we would like to continue like in the field of logistics, medical care and countering improvised explosive devices.

I would like to mention we are not withdrawing. We are transforming the current mission into a new mission, which is called ‘Resolute Support’. We will see a different approach to the security requirements in the future. So it is not a withdrawal, it is transformation. We will focus on streamlining the processes and procedures on the Ministry level and the highest level in army, and that is the new approach and I think we are at a point where we can start to shift our efforts.

Q. What legal basis will ISAF/NATO forces have for staying in Afghanistan? Currently, it is the UNSCR (UN Security Council Resolutions) allowing International forces to operate at the request of the Afghan government. So will the future presence be governed by the military agreement (BSA) or UNSCR? 
A. What we need to stay in Afghanistan is a legal framework. You can also call it an invitation from the government and the people of Afghanistan. This legal framework is necessary because it gives us in our respective home countries the legal right to send troops abroad. Without this legal framework, we cannot stay. That is our requirement and that is why the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) needs to be signed and for all the nations it is the NATO Status of Forces Agreement. We stay optimistic that we will get both agreements signed in the future, and in the meantime, we continue our preparations for the new mission.

Q. The stalemate over BSA continues even though all the candidates have promised to sign the deal. Why did Karzai refuse to sign it? Do you think his reservation regarding some clauses in the agreement were legitimate? 
A. That is something you should ask the President of Afghanistan. Why we need this agreement is pretty obvious.

Q. While there has been remarkable improvement in the security situation, but we have also seen a spate of terrorist incidents not only in provinces but also in Kabul. How can these attacks be prevented? 
A. All the people we work with are very dedicated to prevent attacks, to make Afghanistan a safer place in the future. Does that mean we would be able to prevent every single attack in the future? No. What we can do is establish processes and streamline our procedures. We can work closely with all the other relevant agencies and Ministries in order to prevent attacks in the future. That is what we are doing.

Q. The release of Bagram detainees was widely criticized by international community as they thought the detainees released were hardened Taliban insurgents who pose threat to security. The Afghan government said the charges against them were not proven. What is the actual story? 
A. We made it clear from the beginning that we want the process with prisoners according to the Afghan laws. That was our primary concern and we made that clear. There was a different decision made and that is all I can say.

Q. The recent attacks in Kabul and provinces are still shrouded in mystery. The Afghan government blames Pakistan’s ISI, while the Pakistani government dismisses the allegations. What is ISAF position on this? 
A. Every time there is an attack, there is a thorough investigation. We have seen in the past that our Afghan partners are doing thorough investigations and they are able to draw the right consequences out of it. It would be premature at this time to make comment on that specific event you mentioned. We still have to wait for the findings.

Q. We will see the new government in Kabul now. Do you expect the security situation to improve under the new government? 
A. First of all, we need to wait until the end of elections and until we have a new government. I am pretty convinced the new government knows exactly what to do to improve security.

Q. Afghanistan continues to face enormous challenges but it is a better place now than it was before the international community’s intervention. Where do you see Afghanistan ten years from now? 
A. I see young Afghans dedicated to serve in security forces, dedicated to serve their country. I have met many young Afghans dedicated to improve healthcare, economy, and education. This shows that society is moving in the right direction.