ISLAMABAD - Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Minister Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada has admitted in National Assembly floor that he has no powers to streamline fast declining fortunes of Pakistan sports.

Speaking at the NA floor during its question/answer session on Saturday, the IPC minister termed lack of infrastructure behind debacle in cricket and hockey. “Non-cricketers are sitting at the helm of PCB affairs, especially the two chairmen. If I had powers, I would have changed the entire PCB set up without any delays.”

“We need to adopt national sports policy and invest heavily on uplift of athletes in general and sports in particular. Billion of rupees are being spent on overhead bridges construction, while sports annual budget is only Rs 700 million, in which it is almost impossible to run day-to-day affairs, so sending players abroad and invite international coaches are almost impossible,” he added. Ruling out corruption in Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Riaz said: “I am a farmer and don’t allow insects to destroy fields. How is it possible for the PSB officials to even think about wrongdoings right under my nose.”

He said in the past, festivals were held in different villages in which traditional wrestling, kabbadi, races and animal races were the talk of the town, but now due to security threats in the country, these traditional festivities were long abandoned.

Riaz added that now provinces were reluctant to conduct sports galas and provincial games. “I have time and again written to different provinces to conduct sports events on provincial basis, but to no avail. I warned them not to stop sporting activities in the name of so-called security threats, but nobody paid heed. Nobody could be allowed to destroy sports and athletes in the name of security.

To a query, Riaz said: “I have received a lot of complaints that just to get desired results, the trainers force athletes to use banned substance. we have to adopt a strict policy in this regard and had to ensure players would only participate in national and international events after going through proper dope tests, it would help not only players but also the country. We have to face a lot of embracement in case athletes dope test turn out to be positive. Non-technical persons are handed over responsibilities to run the sports affairs and we have been facing acute shortage of technical and trained staff.” He added: “PAF is running squash in a better way, while Army is also taking good care of different sports including athletics and they are also providing reasonable jobs to athletes. We don’t have a single blue astroturf in the country and need to install latest astroturf at all the major venues of the country to help Pakistan hockey players get used to playing on fast fields.”

About Quaid-e-Azam Games, he said: “The Games will be held at the given date as all the preparations in this regard have almost completed and we are all set to conduct the games in professional manner.”

“The positive suggestion of sports journalists are always welcomed as they are well-wishers of Pakistan sports. I have asked the PSB DG to include sports journalists in Games organising committees to ensure transparency and better utilization of funds. The top performing athletes will also be given reasonable cash prizes to recognize their services for the country.”