ISLAMABAD - A 62-member Pakistan contingent proceeded to Glasgow from here on Monday to feature in the Commonwealth Games, which will roll into action from tomorrow (July 23) and concluded on August 3.
The shooting squad has already left from Karachi on Saturday and two officials were already left for Glasgow. IPC Minister Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada will leave today (Tuesday) to join the squad in Glasgow. He is likely to be the chef de mission. The minister will spend three days with Pakistan contingent. Earlier, Pirzada hosted a grand iftar reception in honour of the Pakistan contingent on late Sunday night at Pakistan Sports Complex, Allama Iqbal Hostel.
Talking to The Nation on Monday, Pirzada hoped the players would perform exceptionally well in the Commonwealth Games and try to win laurels for the country.
“All of you, who have worn national colors, are the ambassadors of the country and we are very proud of you. I am quite confident that you will present the true sports loving image of the country and play your positive role in further enhancing its image. Winning or losing doesn't matter but the thing matters most is how one performs and how handles the pressure,” he stated.
“Despite our limited resources, we have tried to provide maximum facilities to our athletes and we will continue it. Yes, it is true that due to long standing dispute between the two parallel POAs, players were not given proper time for training, but now the government has taken the best decision in the larger interest of the players and the country. Before our meeting with the IOC in Switzerland, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has given me clear instructions that Pakistan can't afford the IOC ban and international sporting isolation especially under current times, when no international team or individual is ready to travel here. I gave clear instructions to IPC secretary Ch Ejaz and asked him to get rid of IOC ban. He handled the situation well and pleaded our case in the most suitable manner,” the minister added.
“I agree we have made some mistakes, but those were my early days. I didn't know much about the ground realities. Instead of lust of power or numbers game, people must join forces and work for the uplift of sports in general and athletes in particular,” he said.
When asked about irregularities committed as far as selection of players by the respective federations for Commonwealth Games, he replied: “I agree gross irregularities and non-deserving players manage to include their names to represent the country in such a high-profile event. But it is my promise such would never occur in future especially in the upcoming Asian Games, no such things will be repeated. Only those federations will be recognised, who are affiliated with their respective international bodies and also duly recognised by the IOC. We will not entertain parallel federations,” Pirzada claimed.
“It is quite unfortunate that hockey and squash teams were not taken on board for Common Wealth Games participation. We can expect medals in both the sports, but now our focus shifts on Asian Games. We will provide each and every facility demanded by PHF and PSF. The training camp established under the command of Shahnaz Sheikh was more than satisfactory. We will continue to arrange more opportunities for hockey team. I know Pakistan hockey team is well short of international practice for the last nine months, but soon they will get the special grant which they have demanded from Prime Minister,” he added.
When asked about exact grant for PHF, the minister confirmed: “The entire amount of Rs 500 million which was demanded by the PHF will be allocated to them in yearly budget. The PM has very thankfully approved the amount and very soon the PHF will be handed over it so that they may fully concentrate on giving desired results.”
To another query regarding PSF request of allocating special grant of Rs 70 million, Pirzada said: “The request was upheld and the PSF will receive the amount in next couple of days.”
When asked about the PM's promise of providing plot and house for Aamir Atlas and Ali Bokhari, he promised to look into this matter and assured his all-out help. “These are the favorite sons of soil and they have great services for the country. I will personally look in to this matter and will do whatever I can on priority basis so that they may get their rewards soon,” Pirzada concluded.