KARACHI: While Ghulam Hussain Patni has been nominated by the International Amatuer Boxing Association (AIBA) as Pakistan’s first referee judge since 2006, he does not have a job to support his family.
Patni is due to participate at the AIBA’s World Youth Championship starting from April 22 in Baku, Azerbaijan and his inclusion is seen as a massive move for Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) since AIBA officials shut the doors for Pakistani referees in 2006 when AIBA’s former president Anwar Chowdhry had lost the association elections. “Pakistan’s representation at the judges’ table is very important,” Patni, a former international boxer and Olympian referee, told The Express Tribune.
“I’d love to represent Pakistan in Baku [at the tournament] but if I go, I don’t know how my children will survive.” The ties between AIBA and PBF were renewed after the federation held the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto International Boxing Tournament this January. But the big move for PBF has become a dilemma for Patni who was sacked by his job at the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) two years ago without reason.
“The KPT had sacked me because I was among the KPT sports members who held a demonstration at the Karachi press club in November 2008 for hiring the pugilists and coaches on daily stipend,” said Patni. However, the KPT Sports Manager Shah Naeem Zafar said that Patni was fired as KPT’s boxing coach after two years because he did not submit his relevant papers and had acquired a ‘golden handshake’ from Habib Bank Limited and could not work for KPT until after five years.
According to PBF Secretary Mohammad Akram Khan, it is “an irony” that an international referee is unemployed in his own country and made his stance clear that the KPT had been “unfair” to Patni. But according to Patni’s colleague at AIBA and KPT, Ali Akbar Khan, the department’s sports management has double standards towards its sports employees and Patni was a victim of the ‘sports mafia’ in the KPT that has forced the referee’s 17-year-old son to quit his studies and start working in order to support the family.
“The sports mafia is destroying boxing in Karachi,” said Khan. “There is no law or regulation that says that a person can’t join another organisation after taking a golden handshake from his previous employer and I can tell that there are 20 others who have taken voluntary retirements and are now working for KPT.” Commenting on KPT’s sports manager’s stance, Khan said that there was no need to provide any documents if the department is hiring on a Rs7,000 per month stipend.
He said that there was no job-guarantee for the coaches and boxers and that Patni came along with him to the demonstration and was fired without even issuing him any show cause notice.