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COMMENT: Imran’s urgent action needed as former Olympians cry foul against wasteful PHF

Updated November 05, 2018

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Prime Minister Imran Khan. — File Photo
Prime Minister Imran Khan. — File Photo

WHILE Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government is bent upon to eradicate corruption at all levels in the country, the delay to carry out audit and change of guard at the helm of Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) is a great cause of concern as the World Cup looms.

One has failed to understand why the government is silent on the issue or waiting for the incumbent PHF President to follow suit of the former PCB Chairman Najam Sethi who tendered his resignation to avoid expected sacking.

Over two months have been passed after the former Pakistan cricket skipper took the oath as 22nd prime minister of the country on Aug 18 and except cricket, no directives have been issued to save the national game from further turmoil.

It is pertinent to mention that the prime minister is the patron-in-chief of the PCB and the PHF.

Former Olympians from Karachi to Peshawar say the change in the PHF set-up has become imperative particularly, after Pakistan failed to earn direct ticket for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and finished a poor fourth at the Jakarta Asian Games.

The Olympians alleged that this is besides farce elections from the district to the national level leading to litigation across the country and misappropriation of funds among others.

The Asian Champions Trophy, meanwhile, culminated on a slightly happy note for the two finalists – Pakistan and India – who were declared joint winners following thunderstorm ahead of the title clash in Muscat.

Indians were awarded the trophy after they won the toss on spin of coin while Pakistan team was given the gold medals.

Earlier, the Greenshirts have lost their league match to India 1-3 which gave the latter their sixth win besides a two-all draw in this year’s Commonwealth Games. If one goes by the statistics, Indians were the favourites for the title.

In the other league matches, Pakistan carved out a 3-1 victory over South Korea, thrashed hosts Oman 8-1, drew one-all against 2018 Jakarta Asian Games champions Japan and beat Malaysia by a solitary goal.

Pakistan survived scare by overcoming fighting Malaysia 3-2 in the penalty corner shootout after being tied four-all in regulation time in the semi-final.

Pakistan’s overall results indicate some signs of improvement in performance. Besides losing to India, Pakistan has performed poorly against other competing teams of the event earlier in the year.

SAQLAIN SAGA

Coach Mohammad Saqlain’s return home from Muscat during the Asian Champions Trophy over differences with manager-cum-chief-coach Hasan Sardar has left a bad taste.

The return of an official during the competition from abroad has never heard off in country’s history of the game and the issue has made a laughing stock.

The incumbent PHF officials like their predecessors are making hue and cry in the media pertaining to financial constraints since long despite getting millions of rupees.

Hockey circles alleged that the PHF had misused funds by sending junior team to Canada and earlier Australia knowing well in advance about the 2018 calendar of activities.

It is pertinent to mention that Hockey India had offered financial assistance to their Pakistan counterpart in April 2015 after PHF suspended its training camp because it could not pay dues to players and officials.

“Hockey India is willing to bail out the PHF so that it could take part in Olympic qualifiers in Netherlands,” its secretary had said in a letter to Rana Mujahid.

Hockey circles question that are we waiting for another similar offer from the neighbouring country as India play host to the World Cup at Bhubaneswar from Nov 28 to Dec 16.

The PHF has deferred the camp despite announcing the probables to report at Lahore due to paucity of funds. The prime minister should take urgent action as time is running out.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2018

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