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, Sep 21, 2017 17:58:28 IST

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 17:58:28 IST


IPL 2019 POINTS TABLE

Pos. Team P W L D Pts.
1
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2
Mumbai
10 6 4 0 12
3
Delhi
10 6 4 0 12
4
Punjab
10 5 5 0 10
5
Hyderabad
8 4 4 0 8
6
Kolkata
9 4 5 0 8
7
Rajasthan
9 3 6 0 6
8
Bangalore
9 2 7 0 4
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