x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Howzat as an answer to extremism

As his nation's cricket team celebrate beating England in Abu Dhabi, the Pakistani ambassador says sport can play a vital role in society.

ABU DHABI // Stronger emphasis on sport in the community will help to steer children away from extremism, says the Pakistani ambassador to the UAE.

Jamil Ahmed Khan, hosting a celebration at the Pakistan Embassy yesterday after his nation's cricket triumph over England on Saturday, said the win should act as a catalyst to solve other problems in society.

"All the issues in our society - extremism, violence, [lack of] empowerment of women and equal opportunity - can be addressed through sports," Mr Khan said.

He said the desire to quash extremism in Pakistan was growing and that the country was "on the road" to eradicating it.

"I urge the community to work hard to improve the image of Pakistan abroad," Mr Khan said.

He explained that the Pakistani government has launched an anti-extremism pilot programme in schools around the Punjab region.

"They are harnessing schools in all the small towns and showing them the right way forward through sports and being healthy. Things are changing," Mr Khan said.

He called Pakistan's 72-run win at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium a "boost to the morale" for the Pakistani community in the UAE, their cricket team's adopted home.

The ambassador said he hoped the Emirates would also host this year's long-awaited series between Pakistan and India.

"I have already put forward my recommendation, together with the Indian ambassador and I expect this can happen very soon," he said.

Mr Khan, who will host a party for the cricket team at the Burj Khalifa on February 19, said it was "positive sight to see people from different nationalities being appreciative" of Pakistan's victory.

molson@thenational.ae