LAHORE: Retired Brig Khalid Sajjad Khokhar is set to retain the post of president when the elections of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) are held in Karachi today with no observer from the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) due to the ongoing tussle between the two sports organisations.
In July, the PSB de-notified Brig Khokhar along with three more PHF officials for failing to meet the deadline for the federation’s elections which were due in May this year. The country’s sports governing body, during July, also appointed a four-member committee to hold the elections within 30 days.
Ignoring both the moves, Brig Khokhar took a firm stand to hold the elections according to PHF constitution. He also appointed Karachi Hockey Association (KHA) secretary Syed Haider Hussain, who is also a PHF council member, as the federation’s secretary in place of Asif Bajwa. It is likely Haider may be elected as the secretary.
Interestingly, the PHF picked Karachi as the venue for the elections while overlooking Lahore, its own headquarters, because the district level elections in Lahore were not held due to the protest of many clubs there against the process which was followed for scrutinising the clubs.
In Karachi, the PHF has its own Abdul Sattar Edhi Hockey Stadium and the support of Shehla Raza, a key figure of Sindh government, who has facilitated the Sindh Hockey Association in different spheres.
However, the worrying aspect of the situation is that the PHF elections are being held against the consent of the federal government.
During the last four years, the Sindh government supported the PHF while allotting a huge amount of Rs1.50 billion for renovating the Abdul Sattar Edhi Hockey Stadium. Sources said a major part of the sanctioned amount (Rs870 million) had already been released for the venue’s renovation.
Sources close to the PHF elections said the renovation of the stadium in Karachi was also an attraction for Brig Khokhar — who has remained at the helm of PHF since 2015 — to contest the elections for the next term. With financial backing from the Sindh government he could run the PHF without the federal government’s support, sources added.
Here it may be mentioned that the prime minister has been the patron-in-chief of the PHF and due to this the federal government in the past granted billions of rupees to the federation.
The federal government on Wednesday received a recommendation of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Inter-provincial Coordination to conduct the audit of PHF accounts of the last eight years, during which Brig Khokhar remained the federation’s president.
This move by the government seems to have been made to grill Khokhar, instead of interfering in the PHF affairs by holding its elections which could persuade the International Hockey Federation (FIH) to suspend Pakistan’s membership.
As the first step the PSB tried to convince Brig Khokhar to leave the offices but he went against the advice and decided to contest the elections for a full term of four years as his first three-year tenure started after then PHF president Akhtar Rasool stepped down because he had lost the confidence of then prime minister Nawaz Sharif who was willing to bring in Brig Khokhar.
Meanwhile, the newly-elected representatives of the Punjab Hockey Association left Lahore for Karachi, by bus, to participate in the PHF elections.
Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2022