KARACHI/LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: A four-hour meeting between the Ministry of Inter-provincial Coordination and the Pakistan Football Federation Normalisation Committee ended on Thursday with both parties claiming a resolution to the crisis that has seen Pakistan suspended by global football body FIFA since April is just a week away.

“We are in talks with the government,” Shahid Khokhar, a member of the FIFA-appointed PFF NC, said in a brief statement after the meeting in Islamabad. “Things are moving rapidly in the right direction and we expect a positive outcome for Pakistan football very soon.”

With IPC minister Dr Fehmida Mirza unable to attend, Federal Minister for Planning and Develo­pment Asad Umar chaired the meeting in which the PFF NC was led by chairman Haroon Malik, who had been in Canada since the FIFA banned Pakistan.

The suspension came after the PFF headquarters were seized by the PFF led by Ashfaq Hussain Shah, which came into power after an election of the country’s football governing body held by the Supreme Court in December 2019. Ashfaq and his officials claimed that the NC was not keen on holding fresh elections of the PFF, which has been mired in dispute since 2015.

With the PFF NC thrown out of office, FIFA said Pakistan would remain suspended until the headquarters were returned to it’s appointed committee gets control of the headquarters.

Pakistan Sports Board director general retired Col Asif Zaman, who also attended Thursday’s meeting, hoped that the FIFA suspension would soon be lifted.

“All we want is a transparent election,” he told Dawn. “The PFF NC has been asked to submit a roadmap for the elections and as soon as it’s given, the PFF headquarters will be handed over to the NC.”

The headquarters are currently in possession of the Lahore district administration, which evicted Ashfaq’s PFF for what initially emerged as a failure to pay its three-year lease.

However, Dawn learnt on Thursday that the lease agreement that the PFF had with the Punjab government could be cancelled after the previous PFF had entered into a subletting agreement with General Electronics.

The land acquired for the PFF headquarters, the government contends, was to be used for “sporting purposes” only with no commercial activity allowed.

Published in Dawn, December 24th, 2021

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