ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Badminton Federation (PBF) secretary Imtiaz Gill came down hard on rival faction for selecting lowly-ranked players for Commonwealth Games.

Talking to The Nation, Imtiaz said: “For the last four years or so, it is our body which is duly recognised by Pakistan Sports Board (PSB), which is conducting all the ranking events and also sending players for different international events, but that was also stopped just because of Gen Arif who wrote a letter to the World Badminton Federation (WBF) and influenced them to suspend our membership, which would deprive our players of showcasing their skills at international level.”

He said that it was not about Imtiaz Gill’s reputation at stake in such a high-profile event, it was the country, which would suffer the most as the parallel body didn’t even had top eight national ranked players and instead include national No 9 and 17 for representing the country in Commonwealth Games.

“Ali Murad is Pakistan’s top player for the last four years in running and he recently won the final of the Wapda All-Pakistan Badminton Tournament, in which all the top players of the country took part. Not only Murad, but also Ahsan, Rizwan, Awais, Waqas, Attique, Shabbar and Wajid are the top eight national ranked players but none of them were considered for representing the country in Commonwealth Games and instead Hafiz Irfan national No 9 and Azeem Sarwar No 17 were picked to take part in the Games, which is indeed a grave injustice to all the top level players,” he added.

“All of a sudden, I don’t know why and on what grounds, the government changed their principal stance and started recognising Gen Arif-led POA. I am least bothered about who is at the helm of affairs of the POA, but the country’s pride must be given top priority. Selecting weak teams or players would serve no purpose to the country or players, in fact such things will discourage deserving players, who play out their hearts to remain on top,” he stated.

“It is my request to IPC Minister Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada, PSB DG Akhtar Nawaz Ganjear and PM Nawaz Sharif to look into this matter and conduct an inquiry as on what grounds, top level players were not considered for participation in Commonwealth Games squad and persons who are involved must be given exemplary punishments,” Imtiaz concluded.