Mohsin Ali

ISLAMABAD - Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Ministry and Pakistan Sports Board high-ups are all set to make a joyride to India for the next month’s South Asian Games (SAG).

Not only the PSB and IPC top brass is part of the Indian-bound contingent but also they have left no stone unturned to shower countless benefits upon their blue-eyed persons and accommodating maximum unknowns as officials for the Games as Pakistan is going to send a 417-member strong contingent for SAG including players and officials.

Inside sources on condition of anonymity have confirmed to this scribe that IPC Minister Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada, who is also the PSB president, had finalised the list of SAG-bound officials with Pakistan Olympic Association president Lt Gen (R) Syed Arif Hassan that included mostly those names who have nothing to do with sports and are just being accommodated to appease certain quarters to gain favours and to give favours.

The PSB has also taken special permission from the IPC Ministry to book private airlines Eithad Airways and Qatar Airways instead of national career PIA for traveling to India and the contingent would have to make stopovers before reaching to New Delhi and then to Guwati, where they would be provided transport by the Games organisers for Shilling.

IPC secretary M Ali Gardezi, whose ministry profile is not just bound to Sports only, is set to lead and enjoy the ride being chef de mission of the contingent with Olympian Islahuddin Siddiqui as deputy chef de mission. DG PSB Dr Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera would not like to be left behind and has joined the contingent as its secretary. Interestingly, DDG PSB Habib Shah has been also included as treasurer despite having no experience in maintaining accounts. Another DDG Dr Waqar, as usual, would travel as doctor for males while Brig Yousaf Ayub is also travelling as the male doctor. Dr Lubna Sabtain, who never ever bothered to visit camps in Islamabad, would be lady doctor. Some other names from IPC Ministry who would make it to the army of officials include Deputy Secretary IPC, Faisal Nisar, Javed S Lodhi and Imran Ahmed Khan. Shah Manzar Fareed, who is Divisional Sports Officer (DSO) Rawalpindi, is also in this list.

The most amazing name in the list is of Shabana Yasir, who is swimming instructor and has joined the PSB on daily wages few years back and is still has the same status. Another highly surprising name is of Zarina, an ex-badminton player but has been picked as manager of women basketball team. She never visited camp nor she knows anything about basketball or has met with players. What was the reason of selecting her as manager is a real mystery and evident of the fact that how the IPC Ministry officials are playing sports card for their own benefits. Hafiz Manan, who is a doctor at PSB Medical Centre has been picked as physio.

In process to accommodate the favourites, the PSB and the IPC have also completely ignored the seniors and deserving persons who could have proved a positive effect on the squad. A highly controversial name is of Muhammad Fayyaz is the a such example, who was employed as massager but later he managed to change his designation as lab attendant and is travelling with the contingent again as massager despite the fact he never helped players during camps nor he had ever worked in this capacity in the Board. Only one lady was ever present whether it is day or night to perform the duties, a highly senior massager Farhat but she has been completely ignored since day one and it is her right to travel with not only SAG contingent but other international tours as well purely due to her professionalism. But as she doesn’t enjoy good offices with high ups so she always remains on receiving end.

Another high-profile name missing from the touring party is Dr Sabeena, who always helped athletes and remained in touch with athletes during the camps. But she never ever got an opportunity to travel with players. Another surprising exclusion is of Dr Jamali, who remained in medical centre till midnight but is never considered during international tours. Instead it is always Dr Waqar whom you found present during every international assignment and never ever provided opportunity to his junior staff. The IPC Minister has promised to provide maximum opportunities to the deserving people among the PSB staff and former IPC secretary Ijaz Chaudhry had sought details from the PSB about employees’ seniority, who had never toured abroad and who had enjoyed the luxury. But after his retirement no change has been witnessed and the PSB is always just being run by the top brass as private property and justice never prevailed in the PSB.

This scribe tried to contact POA President Gen Arif Hasan but he never picked the phone nor he replied while no one was ready from the PSB to give official comment on the issue. One thing is quite clear. Until and unless a fair and free transparent policy of sending senior PSB/IPC officials is not being adopted, the sports downfall would continue unabated. It is time that IPC Minister must prove from his actions rather than words and ensure that joy riders don’t get away and those who deserve since long should be given top most priority not only in SAG but other international events as well.