KARACHI: Pakistan’s World Cup debacle has created a clear-cut division among the ranks of former Olympians and internationals, who are now engaged in a war of words with each other.
Led by several legendary Olympians, one of the groups has threatened to launch a nation-wide campaign in case sweeping changes are not carried out within the Pakistan Hockey Federation.
On Monday, a pro-PHF group of former Olympians and internationals came out in the support of the federation and declared that some vested interest elements are trying to cash on Pakistan’s World Cup disaster.
However, Islahuddin Siddiqui, who is at the forefront of a campaign to remove PHF secretary Asif Bajwa, made it clear that he and fellow Olympians just want to save Pakistan hockey.
“Our appeal to the Prime Minister is to save the national game,” he told ‘The News’. “A total of 47 Olympians and 43 international players are supporting our campaign and we are confident of doing our best for Pakistan hockey.”
The campaign has the support and blessings of former greats like Shahnaz Sheikh, Samiullah, Akhtar-ul-Islam, Qamar Zia, Shahbaz Sr, Qamar Ibrahim, Ayaz Mahmood and Naveed Alam. Islah said that they are hoping to hold a meeting with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani — PHF’s chief patron — to apprise him of the sorry plight of Pakistan hockey.
“We are sure that the prime minister would give us time from his busy schedule. We want to tell him what’s hurting Pakistan hockey,” he said. Meanwhile, former Olympians are planning nation-wide protest rallies if their calls went unheard.
Islah also took strong note of a pro-PHF press conference at the Hockey Club of Pakistan (HCP) saying that the PHF has made it a “hub for conspiracies”. “Our prestigious Hockey Club of Pakistan has become a hub for conspiracies and the PHF is spending precious funds to counter a genuine campaign by former Olympians to save our hockey,” he alleged.
Pakistan crashed to a disastrous 12th position in the World Cup that concluded in Delhi last Saturday. It was the country’s worst-ever showing in its hockey history and has ignited widespread calls for a major surgery within the PHF.