This week Lahorites attracted all Pakistanis by shattering 11 world records of the Guinness Book. The records were set under the Punjab Youth Festival-2012, organized by the Punjab government. The feats have not only projected a bright image of the nation but also helped the government in sweeping all the wrongdoings of the Punjab Youth Festival under the carpet.
The prominent records which made Pakistanis proud were the singing of the national anthem at the National Hockey Stadium by 42,000 students to eclipse the previous record of India.
The second biggest achievement was the formation of the human national flag by 24,200 students. The third one was the human mosaic of Lahore Fort. The last two events shattered the previous records set by Hong Kong and the United States.
Some smaller records were also set during the festival. Officials of the Guinness Book record were reluctant to visit Pakistan to register records. But, the Sports Board Punjab made it possible by fulfilling all their demands.
According to an unconfirmed report, officials of the Guinness Book Record received a handsome payment of 100,000 sterling pounds besides other traveling expenditures.
Insiders claim the Indian lobby was also behind raising objections since their record of singing the national anthem was at stake.
Although the records are meant to be broken, efforts of the Punjab government are praise-worthy for providing a platform to the youth to show their potential.
But it should not ignore the flaws of the Youth Festival. Since the talent at the level of streets, mohallahs, schools and colleges was promoted through the festival, the real talent of those who represent the province at the national and international level has been ignored.
The provincial government has paid millions of rupees as prize money to the best players of the festival, but the real talent having the potential to earn medals at the national and international level has been deprived of the opportunity.
This very talented lot can ask the chief minister that if he is not their Khadam-i-Aala, too. Where do they go to excel and inspire the chief minister?
Showing monopoly on sports affairs, the provincial government is not ready to recognize the status of the provincial sports associations under whose supervision the best talent represents the country at the national and international level.
The Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) has allotted the national games to the Punjab Olympic Association (PbOA). According to the tradition, it is an honour for the entire province to host thousands of top athletes of the country, representing Army, Wapda, Navy, Police, PAF, Railways, four provinces and Islamabad in the gala.
But the government’s response to the PbOA is discouraging. The national games are the real test of any athlete to show his mettle. Among the strong contingents of the Army, Wapda and other departments, the sportsmen of Punjab had been clinching the third spot.
But the PbOA has so far failed to get any response from the Sports Board Punjab for the availability of stadiums for the national games despite writing a good number of letters.
That pathetic attitude of the SBP has forced the PbOA to request the national chapter to postpone the national games till Dec 22.
In fact, the SBP also wants to get control over the national games despite the fact the PbOA has already reminded the SBP that such a step will be a violation of the IOC Charter.
It seems the SBP can deprive the province of the opportunity of hosting the national extravaganza, but it cannot deprive itself of the control over it.
The government has allowed the SBP to spend billions of rupees on the youth festival without any check and balance, but it is not ready to give Rs50 million to the PbOA to organize the national games.
Is it a merit to shower billions of rupees on the raw talent, but when it comes to the real talent the government is not ready to spend a single penny.
And to make the Youth Festival crystal-clear of any financial misappropriation, the chief minister should order for a special audit of its accounts.
According to reports, at least Rs2.5 billion had been allocated for the Youth festival, an amount equal to six years sports budget of Pakistan and almost 64 years budget of the SBP.
Despite passing of almost one year, the Lahore City Cricket Association (LCCA) is still awaiting for funds to be released by the Punjab government to install floodlights at its ground.
The project needs Rs30 million for which the government was ready to provide funds. Lahore has no ground having floodlights for the night cricket whereas Karachi boasts of four such facilities.
Meanwhile, LCCA president Khawaja Nadeem in a recent talk with the media disclosed that the work on installing floodlights at the LCCA ground would hopefully be started as the government was ready to release funds.
He expressed the hope that the night cricket would start at the LCCA ground by the end of the year.
The LCCA also needs to revamp its dressing rooms. Although the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has been promising for providing help in this connection, but nothing has been done practically.
Around 200 schools and colleges of Lahore will feature in the 5th inter-school and college games to be held at different centres from Nov 10 to 14. The Punjab Olympic Association, which is organizing the events, has also announced venues for competitions.
The games included in the extravaganza for both boys and girls are athletics, badminton, baseball, basketball, boxing (men only), canoeing (men), cycling, football (men), gymnastics, handball, hockey (men), ju-jitsu, karate, kickboxing, netball (women), rowing and rugby (men), squash, table tennis, Taekwondo, tennis, tug-of-war, volleyball, weightlifting (men) and wushu.
The PbOA is forced to select venues of schools and colleges and some infrastructure of the federal government in Lahore since the SBP has not given any response to the request in this respect.