Pakistan finally managed to land in Glasgow following weeks of uncertainty to feature in the 20th edition of the Commonwealth Games which exploded into action with an impressive opening ceremony in the Scottish city last Wednesday. But for the first time, the national contingent did not include our hockey players. The national hockey team had fallen prey to the ongoing tussle for the control of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA). It is a pity that Pakistan, which was once regarded as world hockey’s biggest power, is not even featuring in the 71-nation Commonwealth Games. Their absence from Glasgow 2014 is the second consecutive blow for the national hockey players as earlier this summer they also missed the World Cup 2014 held in the Netherlands.
While the Commonwealth Games’ fiasco is a direct result of the infighting within the POA, it was the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) as well as the national players who were responsible for Pakistan’s World Cup absence. It was the first time that record four-time champions Pakistan did not feature in the World Cup after the country failed to qualify for the quadrennial extravaganza.
One fears that such disappointments for Pakistan will continue in the future unless our power-hungry sports officials either learn from their past mistakes or are replaced with more professional people. The power tussle in the POA needs to stop once and for all. The legal battles fought between the two parallel POA bodies have already caused a lot of damage to Pakistan sports.
Meanwhile, there have been some positive developments in the world of Pakistan cricket in recent days. The Supreme Court has ordered the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to elect its new chairman. It has also directed the Board to implement its new constitution. Najam Sethi, the current PCB chief, has given an assurance that he has no intentions to contest in the upcoming election for PCB chairman. However, he is expected to be a part of PCB’s powerful governing board which is likely to be formed in the coming days.
The recent developments should put an end to POA-like power struggle in the PCB. Since last June both Najam Sethi and his predecessor Zaka Ashraf have been locking horns for the control of the Board. Mostly, it was Sethi who stayed in power even though Ashraf was briefly reinstated as PCB chairman by the courts on a few occasions. It is hoped that this tussle should be over with the election of a new PCB chairman next month. The new PCB constitution may still have a few questionable clauses but it is hoped that once implemented it would pave the path for the return of much-needed stability and normalcy in the Board. It is very important that things stabilize within the PCB as soon as possible because whatever happens in the Board is bound to affect the national team. With World Cup 2015 just a few months away, it is important that the Board removes all kinds of uncertainty and sets clear cut guidelines for the players and officials. In the boardroom, too, Pakistan cricket needs officials with solid credentials to fight its case for its rightful representation in the ICC.