ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Inter-provincial Coord­ination (IPC), which met here with Senator Mian Raza Rabbani in the chair on Friday, emphasised proper arrangements for hosting the 2023 South Asian Games (SAG) and decided to call a special meeting of the committee on the same subject.

Speaking on the occasion, Senator Irfan-ul-Haque Siddiqui asked whether the Games would be organised by IPC/Sports Board or the Pakistan Olympic Association.

“The 2023 SAG should be organised in accordance with best international practices,” Irfan said. “As an amount of Rs9 billion will be spent on this event, the games should be staged in a befitting manner.”

Pakistan last hosted the SAG back in 2004 when the multi-discipline Games were held in Islamabad.

Due to a rift between the POA and the IPC ministry, which is trying to implement a new sports policy, there is no POA representation in the steering committee formed by Prime Minister Imran Khan in November last year. Furthermore, following Pakistan’s debacle at the Tokyo Olympics, the government had sought the resignation of long-serving POA chief retired Lt Gen Arif Hasan.

A report of the sub-committee regarding functioning, funds received and their utilisation by all federal sports organisations was also presented before the committee. According to the report, despite repeated reminders, out of 41 sports federation only the POA and three federations — Pakistan Hockey Federation, National Riffle Association and Pakistan Wushu Federation — had submitted their reply to the committee. The report pointed out weak regulatory check by the sports board on the federations, which have operated without governance and accountability.

Showing his displeasure over the non-cooperative attitude shown by the federations, committee chairman Mian Raza Rabbani reconstituted a sub-committee under the convenership of Senator Siddiqui with Senators Rana Maqbool and Gurdeep Singh as members, with the same mandate of probing the affairs of the sports organisations due to the fact that earlier the PSB failed to submit the timely responses of the federations before the sub-committee.

The committee reviewed the compliance status submitted by the IPC Ministry on the recommendations made by the committee in its meeting held in October 2021.

On the issue of the letter written by the POA president to the International Olympics Committee (IOC) regarding the government’s alleged interference in the POA affairs, the committee was told that six reminders had been sent by the IPC Ministry to the POA on compliance of the Standing Committee directives — for providing a copy of the said letter — but it had not been provided yet. The Secretariat of the Committee has been directed to address a letter to the POA president to provide a copy of the above-mentioned letter with immediate effect.

While briefing the committee on the budgetary proposals, the IPC secretary said the proposed PSDP for financial year 2022-23 is Rs7,099.423 million having 32 schemes. According to the budgetary information submitted by the ministry, Rs2593.627 million have been allocated for 10 ongoing schemes while Rs3035.796 million have been allocated for 11 new proposed schemes.

A detailed discussion on the budgetary proposals was deferred due to the non-availability of the IPC minister.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2022

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