LAHORE - IOC-backed Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) president Lt Gen (retd) Arif Hasan Monday said that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had asked the government to respect autonomy if the Olympic Movement in Pakistan.

Addressing a press conference here, Gen Arif recalled the communiqué that had been issued by the IOC on October 4, 2013, which had summed up the issues and had stated that a detailed letter would follow. One thing that stood out in this communiqué was that ‘the government of Pakistan expressed a firm commitment to fully respect and comply with the Olympic Charter, in particular the principle of autonomy of the Olympic Movement in the country.’

“The IOC letter has now been received which leaves no doubt as to who or which is the legitimate POA. The IOC has emphasised ‘there is only one POA, as recognised by the IOC, which is currently headed by Lt Gen (retd) Syed Arif Hasan,” he added.

“It has also clarified that the POA is not a government body. As things stand today, the POA is unfortunately not in a position to work from its office and to operate the bank account as it should, due to external intervention which is against the Olympic Charter, it has therefore desired that ‘the POA office and bank account must be operated exclusively by the POA as recognised by the IOC,” the POA chief stated.

He said that POA was an autonomous body and could not function under the government or with government intervention. “Policies that are not compatible with the Olympic Charter or International covenants must be revised. The IOC recalled that the contentious clauses had been identified last year and the government had categorically undertaken to revise these but not done so till now. The IOC has therefore desired that the sports legislation must be compatible with the basic principles of the Olympic Movement for Sports Organisations to be in a position to comply with both, as it should be. It is therefore expected that the government of Pakistan review urgently, the pending issues in the current sports policy,” Gen Arif asserted.

“As to the parallel bodies, the IOC has undertaken to verify the same from the IFs and the verified list would be the composition of the POA, which would be final,” he said.

“The IOC in its latest letter dated October 11, 2013, by not mentioning a word about the illegal body, has made it abundantly clear, that this illegal body has no standing whatsoever with it. This body is therefore non-existent as far as the IOC and the OCA are concerned.”

“The post-Lausanne meeting, many stories, based on mistruths was planted. The news items even speculated that the IOC had frozen the assets of the POA. All these have now been proven to the contrary,” he added.

Arif said: “Not only in Lausanne, the fact is that the illegal body, tried to gain backdoor entry by deceit and impersonation into the Commonwealth Games, the ISSF Games as well as very recently in the Winter Olympic Games 2014. Each time they were snubbed, each time reminded that they were ‘illegitimate’ in the eyes of the world. Yet it continues.

To top it all the DG, PSB even as recent as October 8, 2013 wrote to the Punjab government indicating that the IOC recognised POA was an illegal body and that it should not be allowed to hold the Queen’s Baton Relay in Lahore and instead the Sports Board Punjab should take it over, all at the behest of the illegal body. I ask you a question: how many times the entire world has to call someone illegitimate for him to come to terms with its unlawful status?”

“Do they have any sense of the ignominy and opprobrium they have earned for Pakistan? And some very senior people and a director general of the PSB - people, whose allegiance should be with the country and Pakistan’s image, are conducting this charade. They have committed themselves to destroy, to defame and to vilify Pakistan’s perception and image all over the world. And they are doing it with their eyes wide open - in full view of the consequences,” Gen Arif maintained.

“These people need to show, even if it is late in the day, some grace for the sake of the country, our athletes and sportsmen. We on our part have always and would always like to work in harmony with the ministry for the sake of sports in Pakistan. We need to rise above and work together for the betterment of sports but at the same time respecting each other’s constitutional parameters. We need the support of all segments of the society, and not have spanners thrown in the works by illegal bodies,” the POA president concluded.