KARACHI: Twelve days after the voting period closed, the Pakistan Football Federa­tion Normalisation Committee finally announced the much-awaited preliminary results of elections in 75 districts across the country on Wednesday, taking a second major step after the completion of club registration and scrutiny towards having an elected PFF.

The final list of elected officials, the PFF NC said, will be shared after an appeals window of two days and there was some resentment among the stakeholders after the initial list was shared.

“Over 90 percent of voters participated in the electoral process,” said the PFF NC in a news release, vowing that the elections in the remaining districts will be held after Eid-ul-Fitr.

“Following a thorough electoral process, the individuals have been duly elected to lead and represent their districts in the matters concerning football development and administration.

“In adherence to the principles of fairness and transparency, two days are hereby allotted for appeals. This window allows for any concerns or disputes regarding the electoral process to be addressed and resolved appropriately. Once the appeals are decided, the final list of the elected officials will be shared.”

Pakistan football has been mired in controversy and conflict for the best part of the last decade and despite global football body having appointed the NC in September 2019 to oversee affairs, the road to the elections has been a long and tedious one.

The club registration and scrutiny took an excruciatingly long time and for the district elections, the NC had gone against the PFF Constitution to give freshly-registered clubs the right to vote.

According to the constitution, newly-registered clubs have to wait for a two-year period before being given the right of vote and the NC’s move had drawn the ire of the stakeholders, some of them having argued that it had stripped established clubs of its right to vote.

“They struck off 15 clubs in Islamabad which have been established for a long time and we have gone into an appeals process,” a member of a contesting group led by former court-elected PFF chief Ashfaq Hussain Shah told Dawn on Wednesday.

Ashfaq’s group has accused the Haroon Malik-led NC of working against it after it seized control of the PFF headquarters in April 2021, a move that saw Pakistan suspended by FIFA for a 15 months.

“They NC has also made Islamabad a district, while according to the constitution, the Islamabad Football Association has the status of a provincial association,” added the member.

In Rawalpindi, there were accusations of a tie in the votes by the losing party. “We have the proof that we’ve exactly half of the votes and we’re going into appeal,” a member told Dawn on Wednesday.

The preliminary results, however, saw some familiar names being elected from their districts.

Former PFF senior vice-president Syed Zahir Ali Shah, who will be running for the PFF presidency, won from Peshawar and told Dawn that he was hoping that the elections in the remaining districts are held soon.

“It’s the first step,” said Zahir. “The NC included new clubs in the voting process but we prevailed.”

Former PFF Congress member Mohammad Nauman, who is likely to challenge Zahir for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa presidency, was elected president of the Malakand district.

Well-informed sources have told Dawn that Nauman has the blessings of the NC to contest for the PFF presidency.

“An appeal against Nauman was also filed in the PFF disciplinary committee, accusing him of forgery by a club in Malakand, but the NC has taken no action,” sources said.

Jameel Islam, the injured party and president of Batkhela XI, contends that Nauman made himself the president of his club in order to contest the district elections from Malakand.

“The PFF legal committee has done nothing despite the submission of all the documents,” a rueful Jameel told Dawn on Wednesday. “For the last three months, the case has been pending with them but no action has been taken.”

Jameel also accused Nauman of “fielding bogus clubs during club scrutiny and they were all registered”. He also shared documents that declared his presidency of Batkhela XI.

Elsewhere, Nasir Karim Baloch won the election of president from Karachi South and said that his panel prevailed “despite several newly-registered clubs” having been added.

“We got almost 100 votes out of 113,” he told Dawn.

There will be re-elections in some districts due to a tie while results of Karachi Malir will be announced later, according to the PFF NC.

Once elections in all districts are completed, the district presidents will elect the provincial football association body. Three members each from the four provinces — Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan — and one from the IFA become part of the PFF Congress.

The Congress, which also has eight votes from departments and one each from the Pakistan Football Referees Association and the champion of the National Women’s Champi­onship, elects three more members for a quorum of 26, which elects the PFF president.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2024

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