By Rashid Ali Siddiqui, Karachi – Pakistan, April 07, 2014: Hockey is Pakistan’s national game though cricket has overtaken it in terms of popularity in masses and sponsorship by major business houses. Hockey in Pakistan is fighting for its survival as its standard continues to deteriorate with each passing day.
Pakistan which had all the major hockey titles such as World Cup, Olympic Games, Champions Trophy, Asian Games, Asian Championship, SAF Games etc under its belt in the decades of 70s & 80 is now facing the threat of being extinction thanks to the callous attitude of authorities, who jeopardize team’s participation in forthcoming Asian Games.
Authorities — both Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) and Lt-Gen (retd) Syed Arif Hassan led Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) are equally responsible for the sorry state of game. PHF fail to reorganize and promote the game on modern lines while the tussle between two factions of POA is also proving fatal for already neglected game. The Asian Games are scheduled to be held in September this year.
Federal Minister for inter-provincial committee (IPC) Riaz Hussain Pirzada and Secretary General, PHF recently visited Karachi separately. During their visit both top officials vowed that the issue of hockey team’s participation in Asian Games would be resolved. It may be mentioned that International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognizes the POA headed by Lt-Gen (retd) Arif Hassan whereas government backs POA led by Lt-Gen (retd) Akram Sahi.
It’s also irony of the fact that General Arif’s POA does not recognize PHF as it is affiliated with other faction of POA. Pakistan’s hockey team’s participation in Asian Games or any other international event, being held under the umbrella of IOC depends on the recommendation of Gen Arif’s POA. That POA has already refused to send the nomination of any Pakistan team in any international events that does not have its affiliation.
On the government level the decision of Pakistan hockey team’s participation in Asian Games was taken in a high-level meeting of IPC chaired by Minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada in Islamabad. The government has decided to even allow the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) to make contact with Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) chief retired Lt Gen Arif Hassan. He also told media after the meeting that it was Pakistan’s internal matter. “We will decide it in the light of the orders of our judiciary,” he said.
He said that consultation was going on and the federal government was committed to resolve the issue within the next two months. However, he confirmed that the federal government recognized the POA which was led by General Akram Sahi. On the other hand, PHF Secretary is also confident that the issue of their team’s appearance in Asiad would be resolved amicably.