By Alam Zeb Safi – The News
KARACHI: The 12-year long era of seasoned politician Faisal Saleh Hayat as president of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) seems to be in real danger as Captain Safdar Group is bringing PFF’s senior official and Pakistan Peoples Party’s veteran politician and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s former health minister Syed Zahir Ali Shah as candidate against Faisal for the PFF presidential election to be held on June 30.
A highly credible source in the Captain Safdar Group confided in ‘The News’ on Friday that they were going to announce Zahir Shah as their candidate for the presidential slot against Faisal during a meeting at Islamabad on Sunday (today).
A source close to Zahir Shah also confirmed the development.
“Yes, he will be contesting the elections for the post of the PFF president,” he said.
‘The News’ learnt that the Captain Safdar Group approached Zahir Shah and after a negotiation withs the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Football Association’s chief, it was decided that he (Shah) would contest the elections for PFF’s presidency against Faisal, who has been in power since 2003.
Sources said that former PML (N) MPA from Mianwali Ali Haider Noor Niazi played a key role in convincing Zahir Shah for the bid.
The meeting, which will also be attended by Captain Safdar, son-in-law of the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, will be held at 4pm in the federal capital. And after the meeting a formal announcement will be made.
Zahir Shah, who is also the chief executive of the Mashriq Group of Newspapers, has been serving as president of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Football Association for over a decade.
Shah’s decision to contest PFF’s election will be a huge threat for Faisal who is going to contest the election for the top post of the country’s strongest federation for the fourth successive four-year tenure.
Being member of the PFF Congress, Shah fulfills all the requirements which are obligatory for contesting the PFF’s president election as per election rules. If Shah joins the Captain Safdar group then they would stand a better chance to oust Faisal as not only they would be able to get all the eight departmental votes but three votes each of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces as well.
In Balochistan, pro-Faisal Group has lost the election.
Faisal Saleh Hayat also on Saturday submitted his nomination papers, the PFF confirmed through a press release.
Initially, Captain Safdar was expected to run for the top post but the election rules prepared by the PFF prevented him from contesting the election.
However, sources said Safdar has started taking a keen interest in football and is interested to work for the promotion of football in the country. The panel, which the government-backed party would announce today for the PFF election would be called ‘Captain Safdar Panel’.
According to the election rules for the PFF president’s post, a candidate for the office of the PFF president shall have played an active role as member PFF Congress, member PFF executive committee, PFF electoral office, AFC, FIFA for at least two of the preceding five years before being proposed as a candidate as per PFF record (ie the candidate for president shall have been the member PFF Congress, PFF executive committee, and PFF elected official, AFC/FIFA official/Member committee for at least two of the preceding last five years.
Only PFF Congress members may propose a candidate for the office of president PFF. A candidate for the office of president PFF shall only be valid if it is proposed and seconded by two PFF congress members as proposer and a seconder at least two months before the date of the congress to the General Secretary PFF as per laid down election regulations.
As per schedule, the nomination papers for the PFF presidential election will be taken and submitted from April 24 to 28.
The scrutiny of nomination papers will be conducted on May 2 by the PFF general secretary while the result will of scrutiny will be disclosed on May 3. On May 5, appeal can be filed before the appeal committee while on May 6, decision on appeal will be finalised. Meanwhile, a letter written by the secretary of the PFF electoral committee Col Farasat Ali Shah, a copy of which has been obtained by ‘The News’, says: “On the direction of President PFF Faisal Saleh Hayat I announced the postponement of the Punjab Football Association’s elections to a new date to be announced later on.
“I Lt Col (retd) Syed Farasat Ali Shah, son of Syed Hidayat Ali Shah, solemnly state that I announced the postponement of PFA election at 7pm. I did not announce the fresh date of the election. As per attendance sheet there were 20 members from Rana Mohammad Ashraf Group present in the election hall. On my request all members left the PFF house at 7:30 pm and no meeting was held on April 17,” the letter signed by Farsat and duly stamped, says. Col Farasat serves as PFF Director Member Associations and Projects.
Meanwhile, a highly influential member of the Captain Safdar Group has also forwarded hefty information to the FIA about the alleged illegal practices of the PFF chief Faisal Saleh Hayat. A copy of the letter is available with this correspondent.