ISLAMABAD - At a time when no one wants to come and play in Pakistan, Pakistan Baseball Federation (PBBF) managed to break the ice and announced to hold the 12th West Asian Baseball Cup from February 23-28 here at Pakistan Sports Complex premises.

Five countries i.e. Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, India and hosts Pakistan will be seen in action. India was facing a lot of difficulties in the issuance of visa, but the issue was finally resolved and they were awarded the Pakistani visas.

When everything was looking fine and things were moving in right direction, all of a sudden, Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Director General Dr Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera issued directives to the baseball federation to immediately vacate Allama Iqbal hostel rooms, where 34 players and officials were residing for the last 45 days and also training for the international event.

Uncertainty can cost the country dearly. The PSB took stance due to female players, who are gathered for the local Inter-board events and they are well short of accommodation and the parents also have serious concerns about males presence, as female players came from far flung areas of the country including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other areas, where females were kept under conducive environment.

When this scribe contacted PSB DG to seek his point of view in this regard, he said: “We have requested the baseball federation to vacate the rooms for accommodating female players. They will be allowed to return on Sunday night or in the early hours of Monday.”

When asked the event would start from Monday, would PSB allow accommodation and playing facilities to the visiting teams, Ganjera replied: “The baseball federation is not affiliated with the PSB. We only render facilities for baseball camp because they are players and our facilities are only meant for the players. They have not taken permission for conducting the event in the PSB premises.”

He said: “First of all, the ground is not in a condition where international event could be conducted due to heavy rains for the last few days. If ground condition improves, then we may consider the request. Our staff is busy day and night due to inter-board events for the last one week, as first boys’ event was conducted and now female event is under way.

“The baseball federation should have consulted me before announcing the event. The PSB facilities are available for all those federations who abide by the rules and regulations and follow the national sports policy under the directives of Supreme Court in true letter and spirit. We can't allow such federations to utilise PSB facilities who don’t follow the rules,” he added.

When this scribe contacted PBBF secretary Syed Khawar Shah to know the ground reality, he said they had got the permission from Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) ministry and a letter was duly dispatched to the PSB on January 20, in which the ministry had clearly indicated that they had no objection and given go ahead to the federation to conduct the international event. We were facing a lot of difficulties in arranging Indian team visas, but now the issue is resolved. If the PSB backs off at the eleventh hour, it will be embarrassing for not only the baseball federation but also for the country and it will diminish Pakistan image worldwide and send a very negative message globally. I am quite hopeful as per promise, the PSB not only provide accommodation, meal and other facilities but also ensure excellent ground condition as it is a matter of pride for Pakistan to host such a high-profile event.”

The inside sources have confirmed to The Nation that the rift had been going on between the PSB and the PBBF ever since the event was announced. “The PSB doesn't want to allow event at their premises, but IPC secretary Ejaz Chaudhry has granted permission to conduct the event. If the PSB is not willing to give go ahead to the event, then why they have allowed training camp for almost two months. It is not about settling personal scores, but it is time for all stakeholders to shun their personal egos in the best interest of the country and let the event be conducted in best possible fashion, as the country can't afford any controversies at this stage.”

The sources further confirmed that the baseball federation was fully aware of the situation and they were also working on alternatives and talks were already underway to shift the event to Pindi Cricket Stadium, where trophy matches were underway. The federation was trying their best to move the trophy matches to KRL cricket ground.

The inside sources in Rawalpindi have confirmed the move is going on and hectic efforts are in progress. “The efforts are going on and we are quite optimistic in case the PSB turns its back, we will be able to arrange event at Pindi Stadium,” the inside source said.

It is time when IPC minister Mian Riaz Pirzada must finally wake up and take notice of wrongdoings in the PSB and must interfere and stamp out his authority, as it is a matter of grave importance for the country. The event must go ahead as per schedule at the place which was promised to the visiting teams, or else it will tarnish Pakistan's image. In case, the organisers fail to arrange alternative venue, who will be held responsible for the consequences, so timely intervention from the IPC minister can save blushes of the country.”

IPC section officer Mazhar Hussain, in his letter no F3-5/2015-PSB (NF), had clearly given directives to the PSB to facilitate the PBBF.