ISLAMABAD -  Pakistan is lacking far behind in sports, when it comes to participating in international events and winning medals. When Spots Ministry was dissolved through 18th amendment, it turned out to be the final nail in the coffin of sports and athletes were left on the mercy of provinces.

Sports were given under control of Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) ministry. After some initial mistakes, IPC minister Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada finally started delivering and got a right man in shape of Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Director General Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera and the ideal combination had started delivering and soon athletes were provided with best facilities, accommodation and training.

When things were going in right direction and Pakistan sportsmen were bound to excel at higher level, some conspirators, who never wanted to see Pakistan sports flourish and sportsmen excel at international level, as their only aim was to gain vested interests, used the best trick in their pocket, which was compelling the PM office to sack PSB DG and let them enjoy perks and privileges and unfortunately, they succeeded in their mission.

Soon after Ganjera’s sacking, the mission of opportunists of enjoying maximum perks along with joy-rides began, and they started achieving their set tasks blindly in sheer violation of rules and regulations. The real losers were athletes, who were left high and dry. In last three months, not a single training camp was established and when finally volleyball camp was conducted at the PSB, the athletes were told to arrange food by themselves. It was never witnessed in the history of Pakistan sports that athletes were not provided with food, while the accommodation at Allama Iqbal Hostel was also very substandard, with AC-less rooms and dirty toilets.

After Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification by Supreme Court, cabinet was dissolved and with that Mian Riaz was also sent packing. It is high time when newly-elected prime minister Shahid Khakan Abbasi must give top priority to sports and immediately appoint new IPC minister or it will be far better to give ministry back to Mian Riaz, who suits this seat the best.

It is national and moral duty of the PSB DG to bring the culprits to task and give them punishment, which they deserve as they not only conspired against athletes but also tried their level best to sabotage the smooth working relationship between PSB and sports journalists community. For the very first time in history, sports journalists were barred from entering the PSB premises.

One thing is crystal clear that the delay in appointment of IPC minister will bring more problems for athletes as some of high-profile international events are round the corner. Ganjera has immediately issued orders to all the federations to start training camps for Vth Asian Indoor Games and other mega events, but unless the IPC minister is appointed, things won’t improve.

Ganjera should ensure the joy-riders must not be entertained in international tours like past, as it is the right of coaches and athletes, who, in return, win laurels for the country. Ganjera should also ensure athletes must be provided top class facilities in hostels and finalise pending inquiries regarding financial embezzlements and substandard food supply to the athletes. The long-standing issue of appointment of a full-time director media should also be resolved on top priority, as Shazia Ejaz completely failed to justify her role.

When this scribe met with PSB DG Akhtar Ganjera to seek his point of view regarding different issues and his future steps, Ganjera said: “I need time to streamline the things. I will take action against all those, who will be found guilty. My aim is to provide best facilities and international-standard training to athletes as they are true ambassadors of the country and play out their heats to win laurels for it in return. I will never compromise on substandard facilities and provide top class facilities, accommodation and meal to athletes and coaches. I have just resume charge and will check things first and then decide my future course of action.

When asked about director media, he promised the issue will be resolved and highly competent person will be given the important task of leading media department. “I always work for the betterment of sports and athletes and the mission will continue from where I left.”