Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) had promised in its 2013 manifesto that when they will come to power, it will depoliticize sports.
Cricket and Hockey in Pakistan have been the most affected victims of politicization.
After 70 years, 28 Chairmen and a host of controversies, Pakistan is still struggling to run cricket in a country where millions follow it with a passion. We have seen Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif unseating Zaka Ashraf twice as the Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board. In his place, Sharif appointed Najam Sethi, a journalist, who was appointed as the chairman of the board of governance of the PC after undying controversies and legal battles.
“It is entirely unethical to appoint a political person,” said Sirajul Islam Bukhari, a former president of the Karachi Cricket Association.
Ayub Khan, Pakistan’s first military ruler, initiated the trend of appointing the cricket chief chosen by the president of Pakistan. This led to a succession of military men, judges, businessmen, former players, diplomats and politicians in the top positions to become the president of Pakistan Cricket Board. A lieutenant general who was once made PCB chief was caught asking on record: “Why doesn’t the board give the ‘man of the match’ award to all the players?” This shows the miniscule level of insight that the presidents of PCB have brought to the board.
There have been demands for a fair election of the president without any political interference. Sethi has promised to, “… Restore the prestige of Pakistan cricket,” by forming the new constitution. Former Pakistani captain and the leader of a political party Imran Khan has decided Sethi’s assertion saying: “How can you have accountability for a person who is the president’s man?”
Although in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the ruling party appoints the cricket board chief, in the main cricketing countries such as India, England and Australia, presidents for the cricket boards are elected by members of local associations. The International Cricket Council had thrice warned Pakistan of ‘outside actions’ over ‘government interference.’
After an attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in March 2009, the ICC formed a task force to investigate issues with the cricket board in Pakistan. Among the suggestions, it was recommended that political appointments should be abolished, but the PCB rejected the advice, saying it was not ‘viable.’
The case is precisely the same with hockey, or any other sport, for that matter.
Pakistan won their last Olympic gold medal at Los Angeles in 1984, and their last Olympic bronze medal at Barcelona in 1992. It won its final hockey world cup in 1994. Pakistan’s hockey has seen times of greatness, winning three Olympics gold medals and four World Cup titles, which is still a record.
Experts say the decline in Pakistan’s hockey could be attributed to the advent of an artificial turf that gained traction in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It changed the dynamic of Asian hockey. The change not only affected the playing style of the Asian hockey players, it also cut their careers by half and demanded a greater physical fitness level than before.
Pakistan Hockey Federation has become politicized, nepotistic and corrupt, just like the PCB.
The younger generation in Pakistan considers cricket as their national game, not hockey.
When Truth Tacker contacted Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Committee, Riaz Pirzada, he talked about how the dearth of funds and the interference of religious organizations has affected the quality of sports in the country. The federal government has allocated 80 crore for sports which, Pirzada says, is divided amongst 38 sports federations. “ We have planned to make leagues for every game so that each sport generates its own earning,” said Pirzada.
Aftab Shaban Mirani, the member of IPC, stated that it is hard to separate politics from sports. However, he added that their committee was trying its best to do so. He blamed the political parties for using cricket boards and other sports federations as recruitment centers to curry favor. He said that although the government has been unable to do anything constructive in this regard, there is still hope.
Independent view :
While talking to Truth Tracker, senior analyst on Pakistan sports, Khawaja Ali said, “If we want to improve the overall situation of sports in Pakistan, we need to follow the following principles in every sports federation.
- Make Pakistan Sports Board and all other federations autonomous.
- A powerful election commission within PCB should be established immediately, keeping in view the past manipulations.
- An annual audit of the PCG by the Auditor General of Pakistan and the report should be submitted to Public Accounts Committee.
- Annual General Body meeting before every election.
- No political figure or people with a conflict of interest should be allowed to become part of the board.”
PML-N has failed to depoliticize sports, hence, their promise has been compromised.