ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) recommended names of Farhan Mehboob and Maria Toorpakai Wazir for ‘Pride of Performance Award’.

The sources confirmed to The Nation that for the last few weeks, Pakistan’s arguably highly decorated squash player Farhan Mehboob was front-runner to land the award, but all of a sudden, Maria Toor made a sensational entry and her name was also recommended in writing by the PSF on the directives of powerful government officials.

The sources said that even the federation was fully behind Farhan, as the lad had not only won 5 Asian senior team titles for the country but also one Asian Games team gold medal, besides winning 14 PSA titles, countless national championships and five $25,000 PSA events, which no player in the last several years have managed to win.

Maria was residing in Canada since 2011 to train with former world No 1 Jonathon Power and had hardly played in Pakistan perhaps due to lack of squash activity for female players. Maria had won three PSA titles, played in four PSA finals so far and also finished runner-up in the 12th South Asian Games squash individual event.

Maria also wrote biography in 2016 entitled ‘A different Kind of Daughter’. In 2016, her best result was reaching semifinals of the 3rd Bahria Town $15,000 event and winning silver medal in South Asian Games. In all other events in 2016, she lost either in qualifying rounds, first round or in the quarterfinals. In 2017, she reached the semifinals of the Richmond Open in USA and other than that she lost in the first round and qualifying rounds. The continuous slump in her form is being attributed to her poor.

Maria started her career as weightlifter in 2002, when she was only 12, she turned professional in 2006 and in 2007. Former President General Pervez Musharraf conferred Salaam Pakistan Award on Maria, while she also received Voice of Hope Award in Canada. Maria is striving hard to get Canadian nationality since long, but due to one or another reason she is yet to get permanent nationality. After moving to Canada, she spoke openly against Pakistan and said females were living miserably and blamed Taliban for trying to kill her. She was also appointed to IOC Women in Sport Commission in 2017 and has recently won national title in Lahore.

Now it would be highly injustice to ignore Farhan Mehboob and just because of her political background, as she is the sister of MNA Ayesha Gulalai depriving of Farhan Mehboob from receiving the award would be huge injustice.

The PSF is providing Maria red-carpet welcome and giving her special treatment, as the entire coaching staff, who are reluctant to train with top male players and junior players, are on their toes. Whenever Maria wanted to train at the complex, the federation has to open all the facilities for her, which others can’t even think about. The PSF should treat all the players, especially females, in the same fashion.

When this scribe contacted PSF honorary secretary Group Captain Tahir Sultan, he said: “Maria is number one player of the country. We were told to send her nomination and we did so.”

But the secretary failed to justify and provide supporting material to plead Maria’s case. Tahir though claimed to give importance to other female players but could not substantiate his claim in terms of number of events planned for female players and inviting them to train at the Pakistan National Squash Academy.

The sources have confirmed that Mehboob’s case had been cleared by establishment division and now it was lying at the PM office for his approval, while Maria’s file whereabouts are still unknown.