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Pakistan ODI squad for New Zealand series finalized

KARACHI: A 15-member Pakistan ODI squad for the upcoming New Zealand tour has been finalized, according to sources close to the matter.

ODI

With the return of Azhar Ali after an injury that sidelined him over the past few months, Ahmed Shehzad is out of consideration for a place in the ODI squad despite his domestic performances.



Shehzad is also unlikely to secure a place in the T20 squad for the New Zealand tour, as selectors are deliberating opening the batting with Babar Azam in the shortest format of the game, the sources said.

The ODI squad, which is yet to be announced officially in the coming few days, is as follows:

Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Imam-ul-Haq, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Haris Sohail, Sarfraz Ahmed (captain, wicketkeeper), Faheem Ashraf, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Amir, Rumman Raees and Hasan Ali.

India cracks open Iran sea route to Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan

NEW DELHI: India is in talks with Iran to begin interim operations at a port in southeast Iran, officials say, proceeding cautiously on developing the facility at a time when the Trump administration has laid an aggressive new approach toward Tehran.

India has committed $500 million to the Chabahar port that it is building as a way to bypass rival Pakistan and crack open a trade and transport route to landlocked Afghanistan, as well as the resource-rich countries of central Asia.

New Delhi plans to send seven shipments of wheat to Afghanistan through Chabahar by the end of January. A first shipment arrived last week from India’s western Kandla port, after years of political wrangling with Pakistan, government officials in New Delhi and Kabul said. The wheat will be trucked from Chabahar to western Afghanistan.

Chabahar port

India is expanding its economic diplomacy in Afghanistan, seeing itself as a regional power. But Pakistan says India is trying to use Afghanistan as a base to destabilize Pakistan, and has long blocked India from conducting bilateral trade with Afghanistan using its territory as transit.




The shipments are meant to demonstrate the route’s viability, officials said, and the plan is to broaden the cargo flow before the port is fully operational by the end of next year.

“Things are moving quite well and as planned,” Saurabh Kumar, Indian ambassador to Iran, said in an email.

So far, the United States, keen for India to do more to help stabilise Afghanistan through economic and security assistance, has held off public criticism of renewed Indian efforts to develop the Iranian corridor.

India’s ties with Iran came up during U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s talks in New Delhi last month, and the top U.S. diplomat said America would not stand in the way of projects that help the Iranian people.

But he warned that the administration would crack down on financial benefits accruing to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the country’s most powerful security entity, blamed for fuelling regional proxy wars.

GATEWAY

India has framed its involvement in Chabahar’s development as primarily about establishing a gateway to Afghanistan, more than Iran itself, Indian officials and a Western diplomatic source said.

Washington has not intervened directly in the port’s development, but, previously, India drastically cut back its oil imports from Iran, one of its main suppliers, in the face of international sanctions on Tehran for its suspected nuclear programme.

“In general, I get the impression that conservative analysts in (Washington) DC have accepted the fact that India will maintain some form of relationship with Iran,” said Jeff Smith, a south Asia expert at The Heritage Foundation in Washington.

“They recognize that for India, Iran is more about a transport corridor to Afghanistan; that it has no interest in advancing Iran’s agenda in the Middle East; and that whatever space India evacuates there will be filled by China.”

An Indian government source said India Global Ports Ltd (IGPL), a company set up by the government to lead the Chabahar project, had held talks with Iranian authorities to begin interim operations.

In August, IGPL applied for permission to establish a company to run the port, the source said. The plan is for IGPL to build two new terminals, one for container vessels and one for multipurpose ships.

Texas church shooting 26 dead

At least 26 people have been killed after a gunman opened fire at a church during Sunday services, officials say.




The attack happened at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, a small town in Wilson County, Texas.

The gunman, who is reported to have been killed in the aftermath, entered the church and opened fire at around 11:30 local time (17:30 GMT).

Texas church shooting leaves at least 26 dead

Governor Greg Abbott confirmed the death toll and said it was the worst mass shooting in the history of Texas.

“This will be a long, suffering mourning for those in pain,” he said at a news conference on Sunday.

Texas Department of Public Safety regional director Freeman Martin said the ages of the victims ranged from 5 to 72 years old.

Authorities said at least 20 people were also injured and taken to hospital.

Mr Martin described the suspect as a young white male in his early 20s, dressed in all black and wearing a ballistic vest as well as tactical-type gear. He was armed with an assault-style rifle.

He began shooting outside the church before he entered and opened fire, Mr Martin said.

A local citizen “grabbed his rifle and began shooting” at the suspect, before the gunman fled in a vehicle.

The citizen pursued the suspect, who drove off the road and crashed his car at the Guadalupe County line. Police found the suspect dead in his car, but it is unclear if he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound or from returned fire from the citizen, Mr Martin added.

The gunman has been identified as Devin P Kelley, 26, according to US media reports. Police have not confirmed the suspect’s identity.

Somalia Deadly attack in capital

Security forces in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, have ended a 15-hour siege of a hotel stormed by armed militants.

The gunmen entered the building after two bombs were detonated in the area. At least 20 people were killed, and it is feared more bodies will be found as security forces search the hotel.

Somalia Mogadishu attack in capital



The Islamist militant group al-Shabab said it had carried out the bombings.

Two weeks ago, 358 people died in the worst attack in Somalia since the group launched its offensive in 2007.

The al-Qaeda-linked group denies having any involvement with the 14 October attack, from which another 56 people are still missing.