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The curious case of the clueless Captain

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In the latest round of musical chairs which the federal cabinet regularly indulges in, Hammad Azhar became the Finance Minister for exactly 18 days, an embarrassing record.

Imran Yaqub Khan Profile Imran Yaqub Khan

Shaukat Tarin is now the Finance Minister while Hammad has Energy portfolio. Fawad Chaudhry was rescued from the boondocks of Science and Technology and handed over the ministry he did once hold, Information. Shibli Faraz, meanwhile, switched over to Fawad’s former ministry. Omar Ayoub was picked up from Energy and dropped over at Economic Affairs. Khusro Bakhtiar was made Minister for Industries. Hafeez Sheikh, the third of the four finance ministers we have had till now in three years, remains missing in action.

Confused? So are we.

Changes within the team are the prerogative and the right of every captain. Team changes, however, can reflect desperation and in this instance, they are doing exactly that. The game is slipping away from the captain. Instead of reprimanding the bowlers, the captain is taking out his frustrations at the fielders, dispatching them to all corners of the field one after the other. Alas, he is still losing the match.

It wasn’t too long ago that the opposition leader who claimed to have “200 experts” of every field in his team became the Prime Minister and drafted his first, 21-member team. Of those 21, at least 12 members were borrowed from previous regimes, especially Musharraf 11. Sheikh Rasheed, Fawad Chaudhary, Farogh Nasim, Tariq Basheer Cheema, Ghulam Sarwar, Zubaida Jalal, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Shafqat Mehmud, Khusro Bakhtiar and Abdul Razzaq Dawood were part of Musharraf’s team.

The prized ministry, Finance, went to Imran’s own team member, the much-touted Asad Umar who had been presented as a miracle worker. Just eight months after he took oath, Umar was sent back to the pavilion by the captain, replacing him with Zardari’s team member Hafeez Sheikh. And now Hafeez Sheikh has been sent packing too, replaced in quick succession by Hammad Azhar and now Shaukat Tarin, yet another Zardari veteran.

Imran’s team faces the dual challenge of financial crisis and smoothing over the multiple embarrassments created by the rest of their ranks. Whenever corruption or incompetence came to the forefront, the relative team member was temporarily removed from public eye only to be inducted right back at a later date. Amir Kiyani, Firdous Ashiq Awan, Azam Swati all went through this process.

The vice-captain of the team also had a pivotal role in bringing his party to powe. From ensuring electables select the PTI for contesting elections, to zooming around in his private plane for the purpose of gathering support from independents, to financing the party itself, Jahangir Khan Tareen was the most important member of the team. Today, he is no longer in his captain’s good books.

Far from being bereft at losing his leader’s favour, Tareen has instead shown his mettle by gathering support from the captain’s team, including his close confidants Aun Chaudhry as well as provincial ministers Tariq Bashir Cheema and Noman Langrial. Another former Zardari team player, Raja Riaz, went so far as to challenge Imran Khan when he talked to the media outside the court in which Tareen was appearing for bail. Let this matter end here, he warned.

Being a “bold” cricket captain or being lucky is no substitute for having political acumen. Perhaps the only similarity between cricket and politics is that one tiny mistake can go a long way in turning the tide against the player. Tauseef Ahmed can win a match by hitting a memorable six off the one ball left to him. But in politics, a good team player is the man who plays for his peers, his captain and the country. Personal glory is not important. If they deliver, there will be no need for the captain to change the team again and again.

It is astonishing that for a man who led his team to victory in the World Cup, Imran Khan had no game plan when he took charge of the government. If the Prime Minister did indeed have a game plan, then it was a curious one, because its implementation has been a complete and utter disaster.

And what of the people who handed charge over to this partuclar man and made him the captain? Did they have a game plan? It seems obvious by now, the match begin without any planning. Imran Khan’s luck has played a crucial part, disabling the opposition into a position of disadvantage. The match has turned from a one-day to a long test. One that will most likely not end soon and without victory.

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Sports

Ten Hag makes Man United's FA Cup semifinal win over Coventry feel like a defeat

Struggling past Coventry only provided more compelling arguments that Erik ten Hag's days as Manchester United manager are numbered.

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LONDON -- Manchester United are into the FA Cup final, but the manner with which they scraped past Coventry City will do nothing for Erik ten Hag's prospects of remaining as manager.

If anything, the supporters who streamed out of Wembley and back to Manchester after watching their team win a penalty shootout at the end of a dramatic day will be more convinced than ever that the Dutchman is no longer the right man for the job. United were cruising at 3-0 before allowing Coventry to score three times in the final 20 minutes, including a 95th-minute equaliser, sending the game to penalties tied 3-3.

The Championship side were the better team in extra time and thought they had completed one of the greatest FA Cup comebacks ever when Victor Torp found the net with the final kick only to have their celebrations cut short by VAR and the tightest of offside calls. In the end it was more Wembley penalty heartbreak for Coventry, who lost in a shootout to Luton Town in last season's Championship playoff final.

- Stream the replay on ESPN+: Man United vs. Coventry City (U.S. only)

United, meanwhile, go on to the final against Manchester City, a repeat of last season's showpiece. Ten Hag is likely to be on the touchline next to Pep Guardiola on May 25, but there is ever-increasing doubt that he will still be at Old Trafford next season.

"Mixed feelings, it is clear," Ten Hag said when asked to sum up the day. "It's an achievement to be twice in the FA Cup final in two years. In the last 20 years, United were five times in the final but we are now two times in two years. It's a huge achievement.

"When you are so in control, dominating the game, 3-0 up, we should win it. The way we didn't was not good. From the 70 minutes to the end we made mistakes."

What, then, will Sir Jim Ratcliffe be thinking? The 71-year-old United co-owner was in the stands after completing the London marathon hours earlier, but watching Ten Hag's team in the second half provided his most gruelling trial of the day.

The game was seemingly done and dusted in the 58th minute when Bruno Fernandes scored United's third, only for the Red Devils to then inexplicably decide to remind everyone just how flimsy they are.

For much of the afternoon, Coventry played like a team just happy to be on a break from the Championship, where they've lost three of their past four games. But once Ellis Simms pulled a goal back in the 71st minute, United began to creak and crack, and Coventry took advantage.

Callum O'Hare got the second eight minutes later via a heavy deflection before referee Robert Jones caused bedlam in the sea of sky blue behind the goal by pointing to the penalty spot having spotted a debatable handball from Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

VAR confirmed it, Haji Wright tucked it away and for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson's final game in charge in 2013, United had thrown away a three-goal lead.

With United now apparently determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, Wright flashed a good chance wide in extra time and Simms hit the underside of the crossbar.

Only the VAR lines saved United from losing to Torp's goal in the 121st minute -- "I think it was a toenail offside" Coventry boss Mark Robins said afterwards -- but Ten Hag still had to thank O'Hare and Ben Sheaf for missing penalties in the shootout. They've probably kept him in a job for an extra month.

It said everything that when Rasmus Højlund scored with the decisive kick to book a second successive FA Cup final, the celebrations were muted. If it's possible to be undeserving of victory having led 3-0, then United found a way to achieve it.

"We can play at very high levels, but in the same match we can go to very low levels and that's not explainable," Ten Hag said. "On several occasions we let each other down. Today we got away with it. With all the injuries, we don't have so many tools. We don't even have a back four in their best positions.

"On that part I have to give the team a compliment, the players managed that, they were in a position that is not in their best. They gave 100%, and it's not always easy to play the best football when you're not in your best position."

Ten Hag has been keen to point to the long injury list as the key reason behind the team's miserable campaign, but even though he faced Coventry without 10 senior players and Casemiro as an auxiliary centre-back, it didn't explain the collapse.

Again he substituted Alejandro Garnacho in the second half and ceded an element of control. In the past month, the Argentine has been replaced with United leading Chelsea 4-3, leading Liverpool 2-1 and leading Coventry 3-0, and each time they've fallen away.

Garnacho was still running when he came off in the 66th minute, and it was noteworthy that Robins said United began to look "leggy" around the same time.

United's new ownership team insists no decision has been made on Ten Hag's future, but if he loses his job in the summer, it will be because of days like this.

He said afterward it was "crazy" to think that victory in an FA Cup semifinal might have weakened his position as manager, but that was the overriding feeling when Højlund's final penalty nestled in the net.

Still in charge, no obvious successor and an FA Cup final against City to come, there's still time for him to prove he should stay, but struggling past Coventry only provided more compelling arguments that he should go.
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World Intellectual Property Day to be observed on Friday

Chairman Intellectual Property Organization (IPO) Pakistan, Farukh Amil, emphasizes the critical role that intellectual property plays in fostering innovation and creativity.

Published by Hussnain Bhutta

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Islamabad: The Intellectual Property Organization Pakistan is all set to observe World Intellectual Property Day on Friday in a befitting manner.

This year, the theme of Day, to be observed on 26th of this month, is "IP and SDGs: Building Our Common Future with Innovation and Creativity."

Addressing a news conference in Islamabad on Wednesday to share details of the celebrations to mark the Day, Chairman Intellectual Property Organization (IPO) Pakistan, Farukh Amil, emphasized the critical role that intellectual property plays in fostering innovation and creativity.

He said Intellectual Property is a cornerstone for sustainable development, driving economic growth, and enabling societies to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

In her remarks, Director General IPO Pakistan Shazia Adnan said the IPO also plans to launch a series of events and workshops throughout the year to engage stakeholders in meaningful conversations about intellectual property and sustainable development.

She said these initiatives are aimed at bridging the gap between innovators and policymakers, fostering an ecosystem where creativity and sustainability go hand in hand. 

 

 

 

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Sports

'Our fans asked us to be more H-Town': Texans deliver with new uniforms

Houston's new looks for 2024 include an "H-Town Blue" Color Rush set, as well as a Battle Red combo with an alternate helmet.

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HOUSTON -- On Tuesday, the Houston Texans unveiled new jerseys for the first time in franchise history. The jerseys are modern versions of the previous look they've worn since their 2002 inaugural season.

The Texans will have four new uniforms -- home, away, alternate and color rush in 2024. The organization took input from local fans, conducted 10,000 surveys, and reached out to 30 focus groups to design uniforms that reflected the city's culture.

"Today, for the first time since 2000, we are so proud to reveal our new uniforms," Texans' owner Cal McNair said. "They are even more special because they are inspired by and for our fans. Our fans asked us to be more H-Town, and we delivered. They were with us every step of the way and there's truly something for everyone over the four uniforms."

The home and away jerseys are similar to Houston's previous threads, but the alternative and color rush jerseys are new looks for the franchise. The Texans call the alternative look "H-Town Blue." The uniform is predominantly black with red letters and red numbers outlined in powder blue. The helmet features a cursive letter H. To drive home the theme, "H-Town" is stitched above the jersey numbers.

The color rush look is bright red for the helmet, pants and jersey. The helmet resembles one the Texans wore occasionally in previous seasons but with a slightly different logo.
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