ISLAMABAD: As sports stakeholders go into eagerly awaited Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) elections on Saturday (February 4) in Lahore, the candidate enjoying the trust of voters that have not declared support for anyone is expected to come out with head high.
The country’s leading sports officials, sitting POA president Lt Gen (rtd) Arif Hasan, Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) president Qasim Zia and president Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) Maj Gen (rtd) Akram Sahi are in the run for the coveted top post.
It has already been decided that the winning candidate would have the option to form his own team to run the POA affairs for the next four years.
Sahi’s campaign got a shot in the arm with the Army’s support. Army Sports Board favours him. But it could also hurt him, because there are federations and departments that dislike Army Sports Board’s monopoly of the country’s sports.
The best example in this regard is the decision of Wapda’s Mohammad Khalid Mehmood, secretary athletics federation, to not only declare open support for Arif but also to act as general secretary in his panel, the area where Sahi remains undecided. “There are six names under consideration for the post of secretary at POA office and I would announce the final name a day ahead of the polling,” Sahi said while talking to The News.
He promised introduction of something fresh and new if he is voted to power. “I want to introduce something fresh in Pakistan sports and would try to activate the system. I have my ideas and only time would tell how I would implement these.”
Arif, the sitting POA president, enjoys good reputation among officials and could well spring a surprise at the end. Unlike some of the key federations and provinces, including boxing, wrestling and KP, which have declared support for Arif, there are quite a few that are supporting quietly.
Whether these will go according to their promise remains to be seen. “God has been very kind. What respect I have earned from federations and departments in these eight years will be enough to see me through. The best thing is that these federations trust me and I trust them. It is a proven fact and that I think is enough for me,” Arif said when asked about election possibilities.
He expressed his satisfaction on his decision for secret ballot. “That way every official will be free to pick the candidate of his choice without the element of fear or pressure.”
PPP stalwart and the PHF president Qasim Zia, when asked about his chances, said that all are members of sports family. “We will all try to give our best shot. My efforts are for the right cause and that is to promote sports. At the end we all have to work for the promotion of sports.”
Qasim has at his disposal the federal government connections and his reputation of a gold-winning Olympian. It is not yet clear how far the federal government will go to support him. Only an all out support from the centre can see him making a mark.