ISLAMABAD - Sporting circles welcomed new Prime Minister Imran Khan and pinned great hopes in his leadership.

The long-suffering athletes and coaches of the country, who had proven their worth at the highest level and won laurels for the country at international stage, were badly ignored by the so-called sports administrators, who don’t know even the ABC of sports.

Now with Imran Khan taking drastic steps to improve cricket and replacing influential PCB chairman Najam Sethi with Ehsan Mani, it is hoped that he will pay heed towards sorry state of affairs of Pakistan Olympic Association (POA), which is being headed by Lt Gen (R) Syed Arif Hasan for the last 14 years or so and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB).

It’s a known secret to all that Arif Hasan is passing on benefits to his close aides. Ever since he took over POA presidentship, Pakistani athletes’ performances in international events have been declining with each passing day. Same old faces, who had done nothing for sports, are enjoying joy-rides, international tours and playing with national kitty.

PM should form an independent commission to probe sorry state of POA and other federations and also include sports journalists, who are covering sports since long, as they are also stakeholders and can provide much-needed inside information. The drastic steps are required to change the fortunes of Pakistan sports and it can only be done through fearless and across-the-board accountability.

Another major area, which needs PM’s immediate attention, is the appointment of permanent Director General of Pakistan Sports Board (PSB), which has become personal property of some certain individuals, who have not only plundered with national wealth, enjoyed many foreign trips, made ghost appointments, destroyed the image of PSB and careers of numerous athletes, coaches and PSB employees, but also clinging to their posts since long.

Former PSB DG Akhtar Ganjera, who retired back in February this year, is still residing at the 5-kanal lavish house, located inside the PSB and also using all his good offices to get back DG slot on adhoc basis. The PSB has facilities for the players and athletes, who win laurels for the country, but they are being misused by some certain PSB officials.

It is quite strange that nearly Rs 1 billion annual grant being given to the PSB, which is meant for federations’ uplift, but 90 percent is spent on employees’ salaries, perks and privileges and utility bills, as the PSB pay more than Rs 50 million annually for electricity bills, mainly utilised by employees residing in the PSB premises, while around Rs 20 to 30 million annually is being spent on suigas bills, medical allowances, of PSB employees.

It is high time when instead of obliging some retired personnel from civilian or army background, the Pakistan Sports Board DG must be appointed within available PSB officers, who know the inside outs.

If given powers, they can steady the ship of Pakistan sports. They must trim the number of the affiliated federations and provide annual or special grants to performing federations. Majority of affiliated federations with PSB only exists in papers and have not even any proper office.

The PM should ensure the employees must pay all the utility bills, dummy and ghost employees must be sacked and transparency must prevail. If the PSB facilities are utilised properly, it can not only be self-sufficient, but will also have huge amount of funds to athletes.

The PSB security is at high risk, as strangers and dubious persons have been residing inside the Pakistan Sports Board premises since long. A lot of untoward incidents were reported in the past and in recent past, an employee’s brother committed suicide inside the PSB premises, who was residing with his brother.

All the outsiders must vacate the PSB without any delays and only athletes and coaches must be authorised the board’s facilities.

There is a dire need to bring revolutionary changes in POA and PSB, as it is the only way to take Pakistan sports to new heights.