ISLAMABAD               -            The 13th South Asian Games (SAG) are only 10 days away and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza are sleeping. In the 2016 South Asian Games, Pakistani contingent did a fantastic job and managed to win loads of medals, but this time around, thanks to the IPC Minister and Acting PSB DG, not a single training camp was organised by the incumbent minister.

Now more than a year has passed, when Dr Fehmida has taken over the charge of IPC Minister, but for last year or so, there was hardly any activity witnessed in the PSB. There were few camps when Arif Ibrahim was the Acting DG, who ensured few federations get special financial grants, but ever since Amna Imran has taken over the charge as Acting DG, she has failed to deliver yet. It was golden time, when IPC Minister should have started at least 10-day training camp and provided them with facilities and meal, like witnessed in the past, when long training camps were the trademark of the PSB.

Now the IPC Minister has turned the entire PSB into money-making factory. She flatly refused to allow training camps of the federations and made it clear that if the federations want to hold camps, they have to bear all the expenditures including meal. The huge PSB annual budget was meant to be spent on athletes and coaches, but it is mainly consumed by PSB employees on their salaries and unlimited allowances.

At one end, Prime Minister Imran Khan has started austerity drive and a number of government institutions are dissolved or on the hit list, same is the case with the PSB, where Acting DG and IPC Minister daily try to scare employees and warn them of being privatized. But interestingly, Dr Mirza is enjoying the services of two PSB hostel cooks - Muhammad Miskeen and Zahoor Ahmed - at her official residence, while IPC Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani is not only using five-kanal lavish banglow as his residence, which was meant for women hostel, but also has two hostel cooks - Altaf and Tehseen - working at his house.

Both the IPC Minister and Secretary are also using the PSB official vehicles. Only a day earlier, Acting DG Amna called PSB Employees Union delegation headed by Chairman Ghulam Rasool and Secretary Farman Khan and warned them of avoiding agitation policy and stopped sports journalists from filing actual ground reality-based stories. She ordered the union office-bearers to ensure highly positive stories about her and the PSB.

After the story published in The Nation a day earlier regarding Allama Iqbal and Fatima Hostels don’t have any director after the retirement of Malik Imtiaz Hussain, who served the PSB for around four decades, to hush up the things, Mian Abdul Wahid was named caretaker to run after hostel affairs. Wahid was transferred to Peshawar, where he proved a huge failure and was posted back to Islamabad. He has no experience of running hostel affairs but he was deputed to look after sensitive hostels, where local and international athletes and officials along with coaches used to be provided excellent services during Malik Imtiaz tenure. But now they are left on the mercy of inexperienced Wahid. When hostel staffers informed Wahid about acute shortage of cooks, he asked them to run the affairs within available resources.

Despite several requests of holding camp at the PSB premises, Pakistan Taekwondo Federation (PTWF) President Col (R) Wasim was left high and dry and had no other option but to start training camp at Abbottabad. POA President Lt Gen (R) Syed Arif Hassan once again managed to blackmail the PSB and IPC Ministry and ensured that a contingent of 300 athletes, officials and coaches along with his blue-eyed persons embark on yet another international journey. The athletes and coaches are unsure whether they will take part or not, but Gen Arif associates call the PSB daily to find out when they are flying to Nepal for the SAG, while Acting DG Amna Imran and IPC Secretary Akbar Hussain are also among the touring party.

Gen Arif made amendments in the POA constitution, holding elections earlier than the scheduled date, removed President of Pakistan as chief patron and removed governors from the POA, but there is no one, who could dare to challenge and stop him from his self-styled polices. He has been at the helm of POA affairs for last 16 years and the decline of Pakistan sports is no secret.

When this scribe went to meet Azam Dar to seek his point of view regarding different matters, Dar replied that he is not aware but he will check and inform. As PSB president and vice president, the IPC minister and secretary, they use official vehicles. Regarding holding the camps, Dar said he just got orders that the PSB will bear all expenditures and camps will start soon.

A reliable source told The Nation that the PSB is only offering accommodation while the federations have to bear the expenses of meal for athletes. The IPC Minister is not paying any heed to highly important SAG and it can be hoped that PM Imran Khan may take action to end the miseries of athletes and federations.