ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Dr Fehmida Mirza Monday sought private sector cooperation for uplifting sports in the country.

“Private sector must help in promoting sports and bringing up talent in the country,” said Dr Fehmida while talking to the reporters here at the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) on Monday after a meeting with Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) and board officials regarding the performance of national contingent in the Asian Games.

She said she will also be inviting the private sector for a meeting for sports development. "We have to work from the grassroots level from schools while the local governments must also play their part in building playgrounds for players so that the talent can come to fore," she said.

The minister said: "We have to take all stakeholders together for the betterment of sports. I will also be giving a briefing to the Prime Minister Imran Khan today (Tuesday) regarding the funds needed in sports and to uplift the talent from grassroots level."

Dr Fehmida said the Prime Minister wanted to see sports growing in the country and all measures would be taken in this regard. "There won't be any comprise on merit and selection will be done on purely performance. National Sports Policy will be formed by taking all stakeholders into confidence. We all had to work together for sports.”

To a query, she said she had asked for the criteria set for the appointment of PSB Director General. She also announced to honour the Asian Games medal winners.

Meanwhile during the meeting, Gen Arif tried his best to hide the failures in Asian Games while Dr Fahmida asked him time and again to focus on reasons behind Pakistani contingent’s pathetic performance, but Gen Arif, like witnessed in last 14 years, tried to give briefing comparing grants with UK and other nations and instead of accepting his failure, he kept on blaming federations and PSB for the debacle.

On Pakistan Wushu Federation (PWF) President Iftikhar’s issue, who took his wife and minor child with him and also brought bad name to the country by violating international rules during the Asian Games, Gen Arif said: “There is a process, we will follow it and take action.”

Speaking on the occasion, POA president Lt Gen (R) Arif Hasan said it was a very fruitful meeting as the minister had called all the stakeholders and took their views for uplifting sports. "The main focus should be the grassroots level development and to keep sports as a physical education in educational institutions," he said.

He said a long-term plan must be formed in order to hunt talent and bring them to fore. Responding to a question, he said they will see that the National Games are held in Baluchistan. "The delay in the Games was due to the venues not ready for the Games in Baluchistan," he said.

Gen Arif demanded the government to enhance funds for sports and provide international coaches. He also blamed federations for poor results. Dr Fehmida asked the POA chief to write her all the suggestions/recommendations and reasons behind Pakistan sports decline.

The POA President said: “We have to work on grassroots level and majority of the PSB annual budget is spent on salaries, medical and other irrelevant things, while federations get very little, government had to give hefty raise in federation funds.

Gen Arif failed to introduce any system and hardly remained in Pakistan. He never prepared any list of athletes, who could win international medals for the country, while just to prolong his tenure, he passed on benefits to his near and dear ones.

The sports journalists requested the IPC minister to ensure merit in Pakistan sports. They also asked a great number of questions to Gen Arif, who failed to answer them. He said he will take fresh start and work closely with the present government. But he never informed the minister that he has been making same promises for last 14 years.

Dr Fehmida promised that sports journalists will be involved in all decision makings and non-performing federations annual grants would be withheld and merit will prevail in every department. She agrees that she had witnessed lot of irregularities in the PSB and she will address all the loopholes. She said another meeting will be held soon and sports journalists will be onboard.