LAHORE: Ahead of a fresh election, a new controversy.
A group headed by Rana Ashraf, contesting the elections of the Punjab Football Association (PFA) being held in Lahore on Saturday on the order of the Supreme Court, has raised serious doubts over the fairness of the polls and even threatened a boycott if the order of the Chief Justice is not be implemented in letter and spirit.
Addressing a joint news conference on behalf of their president, Rana Ashraf from Bhakkar, Rana Zia-ur-Rehman from Rahim Yar Khan and Anis Ahmed Lodhi from Lahore — both candidates for the post of vice-presidents in the elections — and former Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) secretary retired Col. Mujahidullah Tareen said that the Supreme Court last month clearly instructed election commissioner Advocate Ali Raza to first hold the PFA elections under his direct supervision before holding the PFF presidential poll.
Zia, however, alleged that instead of holding the elections by himself, Ali Raza had formed an election commission for Punjab to hold the elections, which was the serious violation of the Supreme Court’s order.
They alleged that many members of the election commission were controversial as they had done the same duty in the earlier PFA election in 2015 — one that became the source of great controversy and crisis in the country’s football governing body.
Then, the PFF of Faisal Saleh Hayat had somehow contrived to get Sardar Naveed Haider Khan elected as PFA chief after having earlier called off the election, forcing Rana Ashraf and his supporters to go home. It subsequently led the PFF to split into two factions and forced a three-year turmoil in Pakistan football.
Zia, Anis and Mujahid said the objections raised by their group over the electoral lists had been rejected. They alleged that according to the PFF’s constitution, a candidate who had held a post in a district body was eligible to contest the elections of the PFA. They said that the Hayat group had fielded Sardar Naveed as their candidate for the post of president, despite the fact he had never been associated with any district body or even with any club, and yet his nomination papers had been accepted.
They said the envelopes in which the necessary documents about the elections were dispatched to the district bodies had the stamp of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF), which was also legally wrong as it conveys a message to the voters that both the election commission and the PFF were same.
They further objected that contrary to the 2015 elections rules, the scrutiny, appeal and electoral committees were formed with one stroke.
They also alleged that former PFF director member associations and projects retired Col. Farasat Ali Shah had been unfairly banned. Farasat, the PFF Electoral Committee secretary back in 2015, had raised a red flag over Sardar Naveed’s election as PFA chief.
“Hayat’s body had suspended 20 members of PFA including Col. Farasat,” the group alleged. “But while the membership of the other 20 has been restored, why is Farasat still suspended,” they questioned.
They demanded that Ali Raza holds the election under his direct supervision, instead of appointing any election commissioner as it was against the orders of the Supreme Court. They said if Ali Raza would not be conducting elections under clear instruction of the Supreme Court, the group had no option but to stage a boycott of the elections.