Parliamentary committee slams PHF for national team’s woes

Updated May 18, 2019

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The committee observed that the entire PHF regime should be held accountable for the pathetic performance. — AFP/File
The committee observed that the entire PHF regime should be held accountable for the pathetic performance. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel came down hard on the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) for the national team’s poor performance in international competitions during the last several years.

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Inter-provincial Coordination (IPC), which met here with MNA Agha Hassan Baloch in the chair to discuss the declining standard of the national game and issues concerning the Pakistan Cricket Board.

The committee while expressing its concern over PHF’s poor performance observed that the entire PHF regime should be held accountable for the pathetic performance displayed during the last several years by the national team which has not yet qualified for the 2020 Olympics.

Federal Minister for IPC Dr Fehmida Mirza said the the whole hockey fraternity across Pakistan had been expressing its concerns over the alarming decline of the national game. “During the last few years, the PHF was given significant funds by federal and provincial governments.”

The minister asked the PHF president retired Brig Khalid Sajjad Khohkar about the funding the federation received during recent years. Responding to this, Khokhar said during his tenure the PHF federation received almost Rs600 million from federal and provincial governments and sponsors.

At this stage, Olympian Khalid Bashir said the details of the revenue earned by the federation through the rent of PHF property in Karachi, should also be shared with the committee. The committee directed Khokhar to submit complete details of the funds and expenditure of the federation in the next meeting.

During the meeting, interestingly, the PHF president requested the committee chairman not to allow former Olympians to sit in the meeting when he briefed the committee.

Khokhar said the committee should first listen to former Olympians then he should be called in the meeting after a while for briefing. To this, the IPC minister intervened, saying, “You [PHF president] can’t dictate the committee. This is not your business to decide.”

The committee directed the PHF to provide complete details of its accounts of the last five years and added that the audit report of the said years should also be shared with the committee during the next meeting.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary committee also showed its reservations over the appointment of Asif Bajwa as PHF secretary as Iqbal Mohammad Ali Khan, a member of the committee, said Bajwa’s appointment, apparently, was against the rules and PHF constitution.

Noting that Bajwa faced allegations of human trafficking and corruption during his previous tenure, Iqbal reckoned a person who faced such serious allegations should have not been appointed to an important post at the PHF.

However, the PHF president defended the appointment of the new secretary, saying his appointment was legally covered. “Nothing was proved against Bajwa,” the PHF chief emphasised.

The committee members said the outgoing PHF secretary Shahbaz Ahmed Senior should have been present in the committee meeting to answer the questions of the lawmakers. The committee directed the PHF president to provide complete details when Shahbaz had submitted his resignation, why it was not accepted earlier and what prompted the PHF head now to accept the resignation, in the next committee meeting.

Former Olympians Manzoor Junior, Khalid Bashir and Naveed Alam also briefed the committee about the reasons behind the declining standards of hockey.

Earlier, the committee while discussing the affairs of cricket showed concerns over the unnecessary litigation between the PCB and members of the Board of Governors (BoG). The committee discussed the issue of PCB’s recent action against the BoG members.

Recently, the PCB decided to bar one member and issue show-cause notice to two other members for presenting a resolution — opposing the PCB plans to abolish departmental cricket and terming the appointment of Wasim Khan as the Board’s managing director — at the BoG meeting held in Quetta last month and subsequent media talks in which the said BoG members had criticised the PCB.

The standing committee urged the PCB to settle the issue of its BoG members amicably by removing the genuine reservations of the members for smooth functioning of the board.

The committee also asked the PCB management to provide complete details about the Board’s performance along with its audit reports and Pakistan Super League of the last five years, and deferred the issue till its next meeting.

Expressing his views on the occasion, Iqbal also showed his concerns over the appointment of dual nationality holder Wasim Khan as PCB managing director. However, PCB chief operating officer Subhan Ahmed claimed that as per PCB’s act, there was no bar for a dual nationality holder to join the PCB.

The meeting was attended by MNAs Gul Dad Khan, Rasheed Ahmad Khan, Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali Bhinder and Gul Zafar Khan.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2019