by Umaid Wasim
ISLAMABAD: The expression on retired Lt Col Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi’s face was of utter resignation. An era had just ended moments earlier, 15 years of Faisal Saleh Hayat’s uninterrupted reign as the chief of Pakistan football, when Ashfaq Hussain Shah was elected Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) chief in an election at the Supreme Court here on Wednesday.
“FIFA will take action,” Lodhi, Hayat’s long-time aide and PFF’s secretary general, said as he walked out of the premises. Stopped by Dawn for his reaction, he said he was “a neutral person” and had nothing to add. FIFA had earlier indicated that the Supreme Court-ordered election was “third-party interference” and that it would take action if it went ahead.
It went ahead as planned, despite Hayat’s vociferous appeals that the PFF risked a ban from FIFA to which the Supreme Court said the credibility of its election was beyond doubt and should be accepted by all parties. It ended with Ashfaq being elected with a 17-3 majority in the 26-member congress.
Hayat had earlier announced he wouldn’t contest the polls. Instead he fielded Anwar-ul-Haq Qureshi. Fearing defeat, with signs evident before the election that Hayat’s group had lost majority of their support, their confirmed voters — three members each from the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan — didn’t turn up. Lodhi, however, did and his appearance in a way is a validation of the election process.
“A new era has begun,” Ashfaq said after being announced the winner by returning officer Amir Saleem Rana, flanked by his three vice-presidents, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Football Association (KPFA) chief Zahir Ali Shah, Punjab Football Association (PFA) chief Sardar Naveed Haider Khan and Malik Aamir Dogar. “It’s now time to take football forward following the years of crisis.”
The Supreme Court ordered the elections in March, after a long-running legal battle that followed disputed PFF polls in 2015. In its first part, it ordered the PFA elections from 2015 to be reheld, which saw Sardar Naveed elected president in April. At that point in time, the PFA election has only seemed to further strengthen Hayat.
But then in a surprising twist of events, Sardar Naveed broke up with Hayat over differences in how the PFF was being run. With elections approaching, he started a campaign for Dogar to run as president. But when he and Dogar were declared ineligible to contest after an appeal from Lodhi, they were left with little option than to back Ashfaq in the election.
Ashfaq wasn’t originally going to contest the election too. He was the back-up candidate for Zahir, who like Sardar Naveed was a former Hayat ally who rebelled in lead-up to the 2015 elections. He stepped into the fray once Zahir was also declared ineligible to contest on an appeal by Lodhi.
The election began with three women voters being elected to raise the Congress to 20 members. Farzana Rauf, Javaria Zafar and Tassawar Aziz were among those members before the vote for the president, vice-president and executive committee were held.
The only vice-president nominee from the Hayat faction, Mir Mohammad Jan Marri got just two votes and was well beaten. The executive committee, meanwhile, saw Mohammad Ashraf Khan and Mian Rizwan Ali being elected from the PFA and Said Rasool and Zulfiqar Ahmed being elected from KPFA. Azizullah and Dost Mohammad Khan were elected from the Balochistan Football Association (BFA) while Abdul Nasir Baloch Karim and Jamil Ahmed were elected from the Sindh Football Association (SFA).
They all will now be led by Ashfaq, the president of District Football Association Peshawar who is a mechanical engineer by profession. He has a big task on his hands ahead. “It’s a huge challenge ahead because football has been suffering for several years,” Ashfaq told Dawn. “We need to bring the PFF back and track and raise the standard of the game since we have both capacity and the talent to go further. We need to focus on the grassroots and have multi-faceted policies.”
The next challenge for him would be to take FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on board. “At the moment, our main concentration is to put the game here in order before going to FIFA and AFC,” Ashfaq added. “Luckily our teams had informed them about the election and we will wait for their response. I hope they will have no issues since they were held by the country’s apex court.”
The Hayat group is expected to continue to argument with FIFA having set a roadmap for the PFF to hold elections by 2020. The Supreme Court, however, by holding the landmark election has begun a new era for Pakistan football.
THE News adds:
KARACHI: With FIFA-recognised Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) staying away, Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was on Wednesday elected as President of PFF for tenure yet to be known.
According to Punjab Football Association (PFF) chief and the newly-elected PFF vice-president Sardar Naveed Haider, the actual mandate of the newly-elected body will be known through notification which will be issued on Thursday (today).
This correspondent learnt that all those candidates who had link with the FIFA-recognised PFF did not attend the meeting.The electoral process was conducted by the Supreme Court-appointed Returning Officer Amir Salim Rana. Pakistan Sports Board’s (PSB) representative Raja Zulfiqar also witnessed the electoral process held at the Supreme Court building in Islamabad.
FIFA, Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) were also requested to send their observers but they stayed away of the process.Ashfaq, brother-in-law of Syed Zahir Shah, got 17 votes out of 20, while his rival Anwar-ul-Haq Qureshi claimed three votes.
Malik Amir Dogar, a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MNA from Multan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Football Association’s chief Syed Zahir Shah and Naveed Haider got elected as vice-presidents.The nomination papers of these three had been rejected by the RO a few days ago as they fell short of the criteria mentioned in the PFF Constitution.
Dogar got 20 votes out of 20, while Shah and Naveed claimed 18 votes each. Balochistan and Sindh did not participate in the elections. Before the PFF elections, the election of three women was held. According to details, Farzana Rauf (Lahore), a PTI MNA from Khushab Javeria Zafar and Islamabad’s Young Rising Star head coach Tasawar Aziz were elected on these seats. These three women members of Congress then participated in the PFF elections.
Those who were elected as members of the PFF ExCo include: Nasir Karim and Jamil Ahmed (Sindh), Rana Ashraf, Mian Rizwan Ali (Punjab), Said Rasool and Zulfiqar Ahmed (KP), Azizullah and Dost Mohammad Khan (Balochistan).
Naveed Haider said that according to RO the football headquarters would be handed over to the newly-elected body within three days.He said that FIFA-recognised PFF secretary Col Lodhi requested RO to give them one month time but RO bluntly said that it was not possible.
However, he was quick to add that the notification will make it clear on Thursday (today).Naveed, who is expected to play a key role in the post-election process, said that the secretary will be appointed after a deep deliberation with all the key stakeholders.
It is also expected that Naveed, a former ally of the PFF chief Faisal Saleh Hayat, will be appointed as secretary .Naveed said that FIFA and AFC will be requested to send their fact-finding mission to Pakistan and dig out the actual ailment behind the current situation.
He also pledged that the newly-elected PFF will consult all playing teams of the Premier League in order to decide the fate of the country’s top event.“We will sit with all the teams playing in the Premier League and will take their input. If they want to continue the league we will try to ensure that because they have spent millions of rupees on preparation and other matters for the league,” Naveed said.
Few days ago, FIFA had hinted that if the court-ordered PFF elections were held, Pakistan may face sanctions. Last year too FIFA had imposed sanctions on Pakistan due to third party interference. The ban was lifted early this year after court restored PFF.
The conflict between PFF and its rival group which now has succeeded in forming a new body has already wasted three crucial years of Pakistan’s football.Pakistan team are in Doha to prepare for next year’s international events including Olympic qualifiers and World Cup qualifiers.
The Nation adds:
ISLAMABAD – Amir Dogar/Zahir Shah backed candidate Syed Ashfaq Hussian Shah became the Pakistan Football Federation new president after the elections were held at Supreme Court building on Wednesday.
As per expectations and claimed by MNA Amir Dogar and Zahir Shah, it was a easy ride for Ashfaq, who grabbed 17 votes while his opponent Anwar-ul-Haq managed 3 votes. Pakistan Football Federation Honorary Secretary Col (R) Ahmed Yaar Lodhi was also present on the occasion.
MNA Malik Amir Dogar managed to bag highest number of votes for vice president slot as he took 20 votes while Zahir Shah and Sardar Naved Haider could obtain 18 votes each and Jan Muhammad Mari another candidate for vice president slot could get 4 votes. For the PFF Executive Committee, Ashfaq and Rizwan from Sindh get 19 and 18 votes respectively, Dost Muhammad and Aziz Ullah from Balochistan obtain 19 and 17 votes, Zulfiqar and Saad Rasool from KP get 19 and 18 votes, while Najeeb Ullah from Sindh could get 1 vote only.
Six PFF Electoral College voters remained absent, which include presidential candidate Anwar-ul-Haq, vice president candidate Jan Muhamamd Mari, Khadim Ali Shah from Sindh, Saleem Sheik, Sindh, Haji Saeed and Ayaz Zahoor, Balochistan.
Earlier, Malik Amir, Zahir, Sardar Haider, IFA President Saleem Chaudhry, Rana Tanveer, Col Ahmed Yaar Lodhi and others gathered at Supreme Court building for the election process. The entire proceedings went highly smoothly and in cordial manner. The candidates were exchanging pleasantries and it was highly friendly atmosphere. Electoral college voters first elected three female members to complete the strength of 26 of PFF electoral college.
As expected, Farzana Rauf, Javeria Zafar and Tasawar Aziz who were backed by Amir Dogar/Zahir Shah alliance comfortably won the seats. Returning Officer Amir Saleem Rana while announcing the results informed that all the three ladies were elected. Farzana Rauf and Javeria Zafar grab 16 votes each, while Tasawar Aziz obtained 14 votes. Ovote was rejected as Nadia Naqvi managed two votes.
A total of 8 females submitted nomination papers for three seats, which include Farzana Rauf, Fauzia Naureen, Javeria Zafar, Nadia Naqvi, Sadia Sheikh, Tasawar Aziz, Zainab Ali and Kanwal. Pakistan Sports Board representative Raja Zulfiqar was also present on the occasion.
While talking exclusively to The Nation soon after the official results announcement, the PFF’s newly-elected President Syed Ashfaq Hussian Shah thanked Amir Dogar, Zahir Shah, Sardar Naved Haider and all the voters for posing confidence in his abilities and promised now elections process is over, he will take all stake-holders onboard for one cause and that is the promotion of football in Pakistan.
“Like I had promised if Allah gave me victory, I will take all on board and from today we all are one. I invite all to join hands for the sake of football and shun differences as it had already cost Pakistan football baldy. We will fulfil not only all our promises but will ensure genuine talent given their due right and respect and right man for the right job will be ensured.”