Pakistan: Gold medal in political drama no medal in Olympics
Put all the sports in Pakistan on hold! The political higher ups need space for their kushti.
Many sports in Pakistan, nowadays, unfortunately, have been high-jacked by authority figures and politicians. In the midst of their daily arguments and skirmishes, lie the lives of every athlete in Pakistan and thus the future of sports in the country.
Amongst many debates is one highly irrelevant question about what political party the figurative authority, at the helm of the sports affairs, supports. The ongoing tiff between the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) headed by Zaka Ashraf (politically affiliated with the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)) and the Punjab government is a mere example of how sports work in this country.
This tussle is affecting the domestic season and our future chances of becoming an international platform as well. All this began when the Pakistan Muslim League showed little interest in providing security to the Bangladesh team coming to tour Pakistan. This, in effect, allegedly prompted their subsequent refusal to come and play in Pakistan, as claimed by the PCB.
Amongst many others, this dispute has also affected the ongoing Under-19 matches, which have been put to an abrupt halt at venues like Jinnah Stadium, Sialkot!
For me, however, this debacle holds little importance in comparison to the full fledged brawl taking place between the Pakistan Olympics Association (POA) and the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) – the bodies at the helm of Olympics sports in the country. With our Olympics chances already thinly spread out, this not only presents further complications in the already declining state of our Olympic sporting, but also jeopardises our shrivelled chances at gaining any commendable position at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The PSB and POA panga:
This dispute stems from the fact that the PSB, which is run by the government, wants the POA President Lt-Gen (Retd) Syed Arif Hasan, who was elected for his third tenure, to be removed. The PSB claims that in accordance to the National Sports Policy 2005, an official cannot serve more than two tenures of four years, and hence, the law should be imposed the president POA must be removed accordingly.
However, the POA argues that the PSB has no jurisdiction over them as it is governed by the International Olympics Charter (IOC), which discourages the government’s intervention in any sporting affairs. The IOC, in this regard, summoned officials of both the parties to resolve the issue. Yet, there was no compromise and alarmingly, at one stage, Pakistan’s participation in the London Games was even put at stake. Close aides of Arif Hasan have claimed that the PSB objection was a reaction to the loss of the said post by PPP’s Qasim Zia, the current Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) who ran for President at the February elections.
To counter this however, the PSB claims to have based their assertion on the reasoning that since there has been no improvement seen during the tenures of the current president, it is in the betterment of the country to elect someone better.
Due to this charade, the silent sufferers still remain the athletes and sports, which have now been divided with their federations into two groups. According to experts, the quarrel also poses a threat to the country’s campaign in the South Asian Games, scheduled in New Delhi next February.
It is not as if our country returned with medals galore from the previous Olympics that it can withstand a test of wits such as this. Pakistan, despite having a large population, returned empty handed from the London games. The only sport we actually qualified for was hockey, and only got to participate in shooting, swimming and athletics thanks to wild cards- as our best could not prove worthy to qualify on their own. This in itself evidences the lack we face in sports in the country and this time around, it wouldn’t be far-fetched for international federations to think twice before handing out wild cards to a nation where sports suffer such severe political undercurrents.
I remember Imran Khan once saying that he felt ashamed to see the country with a population of more than 180 million people, people with the potential to touch the stars, without so much as an Olympics medal.
However, I fear worst is yet to come if things remain as they are now.
Read more by Fawad here.