LAHOR - The tussle between the two Pakistan Olympic Associations (POAs) has almost devastated Pakistan sports while the country is also close to International Olympic Committee (IOC) ban.
One POA has been backed by the IOC while other by government and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB). The stance of IOC-backed POA is that they are real stakeholders and representatives and without their approval, no Pakistani player can take part in any international event while the POA’s stance is that government is superior to all and no one can appear in any international event without NOC provided by government.
Due to this tussle, Pakistan sports and players are the main sufferers as they have been denied many times to appear in many international events. They were deprived of taking part in Islamic Solidarity Games where Pakistan tennis team was defending champion and the country had good chances of winning medals but the PSB stopped them at airport and did not allow them to reach the country where they had to represent the country and take part in various events. If the PSB-backed POA sent players to participate in an international feature, they would be barred to take part because the IOC did not approve their participation.
The IOC has time and again asked government of Pakistan not to interfere in the POA matters and let them work freely for the cause of sports but the PSB-backed POA is busy in making the IOC furious and ready to invite IOC ban on Pakistan but due to hectic efforts of Lt Gen (r) Arif Hassan, Pakistan still save from the international Olympic body’s ban.
In February 2012, the POA elections were held in which Gen Arif group won the elections while his opponents Maj Gen (r) Akram Sahi group accepted their defeat and felicitated Gen Arif for winning the elections and wished them good luck to run the affairs of Pakistan sports in a befitting manner.
After two or three months, when the PSB, which time and again had rejected the Sports Policy 2005, saw their benefits in following this policy, they took it as a tool and started campaigning against Gen Arif group.
In January 2013, Gen Sahi group succeeded in making Interim Committee with the responsibilities of holding National Games as well as POA elections. There was no purpose to hold the National Games once again, which were earlier organised by IOC-approved POA successfully. It was nothing but merely wastage of Rs 80 million which were awarded to them by the PSB.
After organising the National Games, their next assignment was holding of POA elections. Gen Sahi group won the POA elections but one unusual thing happened as Rana Mujahid, who was interim committee secretary, was shown the door in the game of vested interests. This compelled him to disclose the facts about interim committee and POA elections who termed the the whole saga as bogus.
After Gen Sahi took charge of the POA, he claimed if he did not deliver as a POA chief, he would quit. But his leadership qualities were overshadowed by the tussles between the two POAs which did not allow him to deliver rather forced him to destroy Pakistan sports as much as he could.
Gen Sahi group also did many illegal acts which were against the ethics and IOC rules and regulations. They occupied the Olympic house in Lahore with force and threw the IOC-approved officials out of their office and also froze all its accounts with the help of government. This was condemned by the IOC but they were not bothered about it as they wanted IOC ban on Pakistan sports which could deprive many Pakistani players to appear in international events with their own country’s flag.
The Queen’s Baton Relay for the Commonwealth 2014 games in Glasgow reached Lahore on October 16 which was a great honour for the country but PSB and government boycotted that ceremony and also refused to provide proper security to host the ceremony at Minar-e-Pakistan therefore, the Gen Arif-led POA held the ceremony at a local hotel which was attended by top current and former athletes who made this event a success.
Gen Arif should also think about the country’s sports as he has well enjoyed the POA’s perks and privileges many times so if he is really sincere to sports then he should quit and let others running affairs of the POA.
Due to this tussle, the sportsmen kept on suffering and not getting the chance to represent the country at international forum in true letter and spirit. They were deprived of taking part in many international events including Islamic Solidarity Games, Common Wealth Games, and now Winter Olympics. So this tussle is defaming the country at international level but on the others hand, instead of sitting together and resolving this issue, both the parties are busy in fighting for their vested interests.
Gen Sahi group has been making parallel bodies in order to grab the POA fully while most of the officials of various federations officials are reluctant to leave their lucrative posts where they have been enjoying all the perks and privileges along with joy ride. The saga of government interference got boom in PPP government when government backed Qasim Zia, Gen Sahi, Zafar Abbas Lak and Khawaja Farooq Saeed and above all PSB DG Syed Amir Hameez Gilani who tried their best to destroy sports as much as they could.
The role of the POA is a bridge between IOC and government and its basic purpose is to promote sports, players and provide them all the basic and modern facilities and opportunities to excel at national and international level but the whole year of 2013 saw all the things happening in the opposite directions.
Actually, the POA has become game of a power because POA president and secretary enjoy the protocol which a Prime Minister or a President of any country enjoys.
It is bad luck of Pakistan that most of the federations are in a brief case of their presidents and secretaries except few big ones like PCB, PHF and PFF as others are pocket federations where president and secretary can easily sack any of the officials who speak against them. When a new government takes over, it brings its own presidents in different federations which is the main cause behind decline of sports in Pakistan.
In 2012, India was banned by the IOC and still they were banned and they have participated in Asian Beach Games with white flag of IOC not with their own Indian flag. The IOC has been warning Pakistan government time and again to stop interfering in POA affairs and cooperate with it but the international body is being made disappointed consecutively which will prove very harmful of Pakistan.
The main reason behind sports decline in Pakistan is that government is not taking keen interest in this matter of grave concern. If there is a fight between a two family members, it is the responsibility of a guardian to come forward and resolve the issue and if he does not act timely and appropriately, then he will be responsible for whole debacle.