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Sports officialdom rattled

At a time when the standard of Pakistan sports is touching rock bottom, the recent turmoil in the country’s sports officialdom could be a fatal blow

Sports officialdom rattled

There is nothing certain in Pakistan’s sports. Anything may happen any time. Most recently the country’s sports set-up received a major jolt when Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Director General Dr Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera was suspended for three months, apparently for misappropriation of funds. And the very next day the federal minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) Riaz Pirzada resigned. He lashed out at the Principal Secretary of the Prime Minister and secretary Establishment, calling them corrupt.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Pirzada mentioned that he had been disgraced by his (PM’s) Principal Secretary as he had been denied several times a chance of meeting with the PM.

The minister requested the PM to relieve him of his duties and wrote that he would remain loyal to him. Ganjera, who retires in March next year, will have to face an inquiry.

He has faced such situations in the past.

The incidents occurred at a time when the PSB was going to hold the Second Quaid-e-Azam Inter-Provincial Games from May 5-9 in Islamabad. With the suspension of Ganjera and the minister’s resignation the Games were postponed till October. And it is likely that the PSB will not be able to hold the spectacle in October as Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) the other day announced that the 33rd National Games would be held in Quetta from October 7-14.

Khayyal Zad Gul, already working as joint secretary of the Council for Common Interest (CCI), has been given additional charge of DG PSB and joint secretary IPC as that post was also vacant.

Khayyal has started working as DG PSB and is sending the national contingent to Baku for the Islamic Games to be held from May 12-22.

Because of the absence of any strong man in the PSB hierarchy, the officials were disturbed when Ganjera was suspended as they felt pressure not knowing how to tackle sensitive issues at the most critical time.

Pirzada’s stepping down at the most critical moment is not a good step. When the DG was suspended he should have fought. He could have easily conducted the Inter-Provincial Games and could also send the national contingent to Baku comfortably.

“Young people should be given the chance to serve at the top level in sports bodies. It gives me a lot of pain when I see that a few people are dominating sports and you can see some people who besides serving as leading officials of Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) are also seen grabbing top seats of federations”

If any wrongdoing is proved against Ganjera as a result of the inquiry, it will be an embarrassment for the minister who is a landlord and belongs to a respectable family.

Some sources told me that Pirzada wanted to sever his ties with the PML-N and it was a good opportunity for him.

But some sources said that the PML-N does not want to lose Pirzada and he will be back in his ministry and so will be the case with Ganjera.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is also the patron of the PSB, should start taking interest in sports to help the country overcome terrorism and boost its economy.

Former DG PSB Brig (retd) Arif Siddiqui told ‘The News on Sunday’ (TNS) that there should be strong accountability. “The government has every right to initiate inquiry against any one at any time. If the government gives you money it can ask you about it,” Arif said.

However, he was not quite sure that any productive inquiry would be carried out against Ganjera. “I don’t think any inquiry may lead to any conclusion. Those who have been targeted may make a comeback,” he observed.

Arif was the last PSB boss in a brief list of those PSB Director Generals who have rendered meritorious services for Pakistan’s spots.

“Even federations say that they are independent and are not accountable to anyone. But they should not look at the sports bodies of Europe which are financially independent and even give back to their governments. In Pakistan, except the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), no federation can bear its expenses and solely depend on state funding. And here every one is accountable,” he pointed out.

“I used to say that sports can be improved in Pakistan. But now I have also lost hope and feel that we need surgical strikes and revolutionary changes to improve our sports. Young people should be given the chance to serve at the top level in sports bodies. It gives me a lot of pain when I see that a few people are dominating sports and you can see some people who besides serving as leading officials of Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) are also seen grabbing top seats of federations,” Arif said.

Let’s talk about the Islamic Games. Despite the recent happenings in PSB and IPC, the PSB is set to send a 220-member contingent, 160 players and 60 officials, to Baku in different groups from May 6.

Pakistan will be featuring in 15 disciplines in the event to be held from May 12-22 in Azerbaijan capital. The disciplines are: athletics, swimming, volleyball, table tennis, wushu, taekwondo, karate, basketball (both male and female), boxing, shooting, tennis, wrestling, weightlifting, handball and zurkhaneh.

The entries of Zurkhaneh have been sent through Pakistan Wrestling Federation (PWF) as there is no zurkhaneh federation working in the country.

Alam Zeb Safi

Alam Zeb copy
The writer is a sports reporter at The News International. He may be reached at 73.alam@gmail.com.

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