PAKISTAN INDIA SPORTS OFFICIALS ON ONE PAGE AT LEAST IN OPPOSING TERM RESTRICTION

ANISUDDIN KHAN
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

Sep 24 - 30, 20
12

Sports is the only field where Pakistan and India take softer approach and mostly accommodate each other . But in other fields that lenient view is replaced by hard stand taken by two governments. However Indians unfortunately have allowed tougher policies to creep in some time even in sports when they refused to revive cricket relations or allowed Pakistanis to play in cash rich Indian Premier League. Indians extend lame excuses as security of Pakistani players or the disinterest of the owners of the IPL teams in hiring Pakistani players to ignore Pakistani stars. It is one Indian way to sideline Pakistanis in cricket on Indian soil. The world and the people of Pakistan could easily see through the Indian attitude which is based on double standards and bias.

However the Indian hockey officials are not that prejudiced and have welcomed Pakistanis in the Indian Hockey League which also gives good financial return to players though not as good as cricket. One can keep talking about the biased behavior of some Indian sports officials and national sports federations but there is one area where the sports officials of Pakistan and India have identical interest when it comes to protecting their own interest.

Officials of the two countries are putting up good fight to oppose government move to restricting of the terms of the officials in national federations to two. For the last four years since Indian Government advised to remove officials who had held offices more than two terms, the Indian sports officials were fighting against the directive in their own style.

Similarly the Pakistani sports officials are restricting government orders on term restriction.

Superior judiciaries of the two countries were also involved in the issue and had given their respective rulings which can not be implemented because they are in direct conflict with the International Olympic Committee ruling that abhors direct government interference in the working of the Olympic committee and the national federations.

The national federations of the two countries are affiliated to international federations who are part of the Olympic movement and any hint of the government interference in the running of the national federations may allow the IOC to intervene and the national sports federations may lose their affiliation and the right to appear at international level.

International Football Federation and even the IOC in a number of cases in the past when they found government intervention in the working of the national federations , suspended national Olympic Committee which resulted in the suspension of the country from international arena.

If India and Pakistan insist on enforcing the term limitation clause arbitrarily, they could face suspension from international sports. Pakistan sports officials fighting against government rule of two-term restrictions have found new comrades in neighboring India where the Indian national sports federations have refused to accept curtailment of tenure of office beyond two terms.

In Pakistan under the new sports policy implemented during Musharraf regime, national sports federations were directed that no office bearers would hold the office for the third term and any breach would result in stopping of the annual grants in aid without which no sports in Pakistan could function.

Some time ago the Athletics Federation of Pakistan defied the directive which allegedly resulted in suspension of the federation but according to unconfirmed reports both the AFP and Pakistan Sports Board, the aid giving body, settled the issue mutually.

Similarly the Pakistan Tennis Federation was also advised by relevant government authority to follow the rules laid down by the sports policy and implement two terms restriction. The PTF, in order to avoid confrontation, deferred convening of general body which should have been convened before April 13 for holding quadrennial elections. The PTF officially said to have ceased to exit on April 13 last year when it legally completed its four year term.

The Indian sports officials have also shown their anger on the directives of term curtailment and have decided to openly tell the government they were not interested in receiving government grants any more by the end of the year, according to information available here. Indian Olympic Association Secretary General Randhir Singh official has recently said curtailment of the tenure of IOA and national sports federation officials was not acceptable as constitutions of these bodies do not bar them from continuing in office for any number of terms.

Indian sports federations have decided to cut financial assistance to attain freedom from government control.

There should be no restriction on the tenure of office bearers in order to maintain continuity in decision making and also to ensure that India has representation in various international federations. Seniority plays a very important role in decision making process, he said.

We are the largest democracy in the world and have a Parliament. Many members of Parliament have been elected for many terms...so why so much hue and cry over the tenure of the office bearers of sports bodies who are duly elected by their respective General Assemblies? he said.

Randhir also made it clear that the IOA had decided to stop taking financial help from the government from this year as it did not want government interference in its functioning and not because it wants to avoid Right to Information.

We would like to maintain our autonomy and do not want any interference in the running of Olympic Movement, Randhir said. In a letter to Indian sports ministry last month, the Indian Olympic Association stated: The Indian Olympic Association would like to thank the Government of India for the financial support it has provided to the Indian team till now under the aegis of Indian Olympic Association.

The autonomy of National Olympic Committee of India - the Indian Olympic Association - is supreme. The IOA would like to desist from receiving any further financial support from the government from the financial year 2010-11, the letter said.

Some IOA officials claimed that it was aimed at maintaining the autonomy of the IOA as it would not be answerable to the sports ministry for its actions since it was not taking any financial help. Meanwhile, Indian ministry sources said that though the government cant force anybody to receive assistance but they still would have to be accountable.

According to official figures, the IOA received Indian Rs 28.53 lakh as grant in 2005-06, Rs 538.10 lakh in 2006-07, Rs 244.28 lakh in 2007-08 and Rs 238.96 lakh in 2008-09. IOA sources revealed that IOA does not require financial assistance from the government since it was well-funded by the International Olympic Committee.

No official figures were available on how much money the Pakistan Sports Board annually doles out to national sports federation. National federations and Pakistan Olympic Committee are wholly dependent on government aid without which a simple blade of grass cannot move in the offices of the federations. They can not organize competitions and events at home and definitely could not send teams abroad.

Except for Pakistan Cricket Board which is financially independent and does not need government funds, all other sports bodies are dependent on government funds but still they want to be independent in making their decisions most of the time threatening that any interference in their affairs may attract the wrath of IOC and other international bodies.

The Pakistani sports federations had never tried to become financially independent which is the only way to become independent from government control.