Shahid Afridi, Inzamam-ul-Haq bat for peace in ex-Taliban stronghold of Miranshah with cricket

Thousands of cricket fans cheered on their favourite stars at an international T20 match on Thursday in the former Taliban stronghold of Miranshah.

AFP, September 21, 2017

Miranshah: Thousands of cricket fans cheered on their favourite stars and waved signs proclaiming: "We want peace" at an international T20 match Thursday in the former Taliban stronghold of Miranshah, as authorities proudly showcased the area as free of militants.

Pakistan XI bowler Shahid Afridi delivers the ball next in their match against UK Media XI. AFP

Pakistan XI bowler Shahid Afridi delivers the ball during their match against UK Media XI. AFP

The match between the Pakistan XI and a visiting UK eleven in the country's restive tribal belt comes weeks after US President Donald Trump blasted Islamabad publicly, accusing the ally of supporting militant safe havens in the region.

Stretched along the Afghan border, North Waziristan's Miranshah was once a de facto Taliban state that hosted foreign jihadists including leading figures from Al-Qaeda and served as a launching pad for attacks into Afghanistan.

But in 2014 the Pakistan army launched a clearance operation in the tribal district to wipe out militant bases and bring an end to a bloody insurgency that has cost thousands of lives since 2004 and strained ties with Washington.

Leading Pakistani cricketers Shahid Afridi and former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq took to the lush pitch to the roaring approval of more than 20,000 fans in attendance, who had been massing since early in the morning for the rare chance to see international cricket live.

"It feels like I'm in Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore or in Islamabad today. It doesn't feel like the old Miranshah infested by the militants," said Fahimullah, a 31-year-old school teacher.

Batting first, Pakistan scored 254 runs while the UK batsmen could only reach 151 for seven wickets in the allotted 20 overs.

Pakistan's former captain Inzamam and the immensely popular Afridi hit some towering sixes and brisk boundaries leading their team to victory by 103 runs against the British side.

"I have not seen such a big match here before today," said ninth grader Faizan Khan.

"We could not go out earlier because of Taliban. The situation was very bad then, but now they have disappeared, I don't know where have they gone," he added.

Updated Date: Sep 21, 2017





Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3634 125
2 South Africa 3589 112
3 Australia 3499 106
4 New Zealand 2354 102
5 England 3772 97
6 Sri Lanka 2914 94
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 5599 124
2 India 5492 122
3 South Africa 3842 113
4 New Zealand 4602 112
5 Pakistan 3279 102
6 Australia 3474 102
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 3270 131
2 Australia 1894 126
3 India 3932 123
4 New Zealand 2542 116
5 England 1951 115
6 South Africa 2058 114