ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) organised a reception in honour of Pakistani contingent leaving for India to participate in South Asian Games (SAG), to be held in India from February 5, here at Pakistan Sports Complex on Monday.

Inter Provincial Coordination Minister Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada was supposed to be the chief guest but due to sad demise in family, he could not attend the ceremony and IPC secretary M Ali Gardezi, who is also the chef de mission of the contingent, graced the ceremony as chief guest while PSB Director General Dr Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera, DDG Facilities Agha Amjedullah, Assistant Director Hostels Malik Imtiaz Hussain, players, coaches and other dignitaries were also present there. Pakistani contingent is leaving for India today (Tuesday).

Sharing his views, IPC secretary Gardezi lauded the PSB DG for providing top class facilities to players and backed his stance of going for longer route just because of safety of the players. “We appoligise for the inconvenience in advance, but it was only viable solution. The players should utilize available time and get good sleep. Last time, our players managed to win 19 gold which was bench mark. I hope and pray keeping in mind top class training under top coaches. They will go further ahead and win more medals this time around.”

Speaking on the occasion, PSB DG Ganjera termed the players ambassadors of the country and warned them against using drugs or unfair means, which could bring bad name for the country. “We have explored every option but have to settle down for long route according to respective government instructions from India and Pakistan. We can’t take risk so we have adopted long but safer route keeping in mind safety of our players.” Special prayers were offered for the success and safe passage of the players prior to the start of the ceremony.

He said they were given very short span of time for preparations as in the past, at least two years back, the venue was announced, but due to their own problems, India only informed Pakistan a few months back. “Even then, we have provided top class facilities and whatever we could do for the players. We arranged coaches and diet, accommodation, meal and provided them with kits and training plan. We and coaches have played our part, now it is athletes’ turn to perform and win medals for the country.”

To a query regarding sending a lot of joyriders with the contingent, PSB DG failed to give answer and accepted flaws in the system. He promised to rectify mistakes and ensured no such repeat in future. “We have selected officials purely on merit.”

Ganjera continued to defend M Fayyaz, who is lab attendant and going with the contingent as massager, while he failed to justify even a single name included in the SAG-bound contingent as officials.

It is high time when instead of second joyrides with Pakistan contingent, the IPC Minister and secretary must open their eyes and keep a close check on one-man show in the PSB, which is destroying the entire system. There are a number of high ranking officials in the PSB, but they are simply toothless, as it is only PSB DG, who makes all the shots. He is free to include or exclude anybody on his personal liking and disliking, while a long list of employees, who are working day and night tirelessly, were never given any opportunity of visiting aboard to gain much-needed international exposure. Same old close aides always get the joy-rides.

The time is ripe when the Prime Minster should take strong notice of irregularities and self-styled policies of PSB working. It seems the PSB is not government-owned institution but a personal property. No one can even breathe without taking permission from the DG. This policy needs to be changed sooner rather than later, as already too many injustices have been done with the deserving ones.