LAHORE: The former caretaker cabinet’s hastily approval of giving control of the e-Library situated in the Nishtar Sports Complex near the Gaddafi Stadium to the Pakistan Cricket Board has raised many an eyebrows as interim ex-CM Mohsin Naqvi was to take the reins of the PCB after the new dispensation is in place.

The move seems to be a challenge to Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz who, in her maiden speech, had said that e-library is the vision of the PML-N under which a good number of libraries were set up in the province by Shehbaz Sharif’s government.

According to a Punjab Sports Department’s official, Mr Naqvi as caretaker chief minister and PCB chairman paid a surprise to visit to the e-Library during the PSL-9 matches and decided on the spot to hand it over to the PCB to set up a cricket museum in the building.

According to the official, 9,600 students doing PhD, MPhil and CSS [aspirants] were benefiting from the e-Library as regular members, without any fee.

Move seems to be a challenge to Maryam’s vision

“They have access to free net service, computers and a comfortable environment to continue their study and they all are unhappy over this decision of Mohsin Naqvi,” the official said. He said the caretaker Punjab government had also got the approval of the cabinet in its Feb 18 meeting ‘in haste’.

According to the minutes of the cabinet’s meeting, a copy of which is available with Dawn, Mohsin was showing haste in taking over the e-Library.

“9.5: The Law Department observed that e-Library situated at Abdul Hafeez Kardar Road, Nishtar Sports Complex, being administered through Youth Affairs and Sports, is an asset of Government of the Punjab, therefore, Provincial Cabinet is duly authorised to transfer the same to the Pakistan Cricket Board, an autonomous body of Federal Government, for setting up a Cricket Museum, as per its request.

“However, it may be observed that the modalities for such allotment are required to be worked out by the administrative department with the PCB, in the shape of an agreement/MoU to be vetted by this department, with the foregoing observations, if deemed appropriate the chief minister may like to place the matter before provincial cabinet for consideration/decision.

“9.6: Accordingly, the cabinet was requested to consider and approve that the administrative control of e-Library may be handed over to PCB for setting up a Cricket Museum. The terms and conditions of the agreement shall be finalised by the PCB and the Punjab Sports Board.

“Decision No. 09: The cabinet considered and approved the proposal contained in para 9.6 above. In the meanwhile, the operational control of e-Library may be handed over to PCB without waiting for the issuance of the minutes of the cabinet meeting,” it concluded.

Meanwhile, the official said the sports secretary was reluctant to hand over the e-Library. One of the member students said CM Maryum should take an immediate action to stop it.

The member also said the PCB had a good number of shops in the Gaddafi Stadium and it would be better to set up the cricket museum in some shops, instead of renting them out.

When contacted, the PCB media department kept mum and spokesperson of Punjab government Marrium Aurangzeb also did not respond.

It merits mentioning that the PCB had already taken over the high performance centres of the Punjab Sports Department, which were established in Sialkot and Faisalabad. The game of cricket is not included in the list of the Punjab Sports

Department, as it has to promote other games like hockey, football, boxing and others. Owing to the glamour of the game in the country, the department had been involved in cricket activities. In the previous Punjab government, Shahbaz

Sharif as chief minister had hired the services of former Test cricketer Zaheer Abbas to set up the cricket academies in the province. The project rolled over soon after the end of the Shahbaz’s government in 2018. Later, in PTI’s government in Punjab, Sports Board Director General Tariq Qureshi ‘unnecessarily’ prepared two high performance centres in Sialkot and Faisalabad, while it was the job of the PCB to set up such centres.

Moreover, the PCB had already taken control of the LCCA ground, adjacent to the e-Library, which had never been its property as it belonged to the Lahore City Cricket Association since 1962. The ground was given to the PCB some three years back by the Lahore commissioner, despite the fact the cricket board is not the owner of the ground. The infrastructure of the LCCA ground is in a bad shape as no renovation work was done by the PCB in the last three years.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2024

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