by Alam Zeb Safi
And finally FIFA and AFC changed the guard, bringing in a fresh-looking Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Normalisation Committee to hold the PFF elections. Canada-based football enthusiast Haroon Malik has been brought in as the chairman. And out of the remaining four members three have been replaced. Only Muneer Ahmad Khan Sadhana, who served as acting chairman after the resignation of former chairman Humza Khan, has been retained. Former PFF official Shahid Khokhar, Saud Hashmi and Haris Azmat have replaced Col Mujahid, Sikandar Khattak and Asma Bilal. While Sadhana and Shahid are well-known to all football stakeholders, Haris is a Lahore-based lawyer, while Hashmi is based at Karachi.
Here I want to reproduce FIFA’s statement while announcing the new composition of the NC on January 19. “Following the decision of the Bureau of the FIFA Council to extend the mandate of the normalisation committee of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) until 30 June 2021, FIFA and the AFC have decided to replace three of the four members,” FIFA said in a press release.
“The decision follows the resignation of the previous PFF normalisation committee chairman and aims to give fresh impetus to the normalisation process,” the release said. “While the normalisation committee chairman and members will assume their duties as of January 20, 2021, their final confirmation is conditional upon the successful completion of an eligibility check carried out by the FIFA Review Committee in accordance with the FIFA Governance Regulations,” FIFA said.
“All other terms of the mandate of the normalisation committee, as decided by the Bureau of the FIFA Council, remain the same,” it said.
The newly-recomposed committee held a meeting virtually on Wednesday.
According to sources, new chairman Haroon Malik will arrive in Lahore to start his task which is not easy. I don’t know how much Haroon knows about Pakistan football and its politics but the basic thing is that steel nerves and the right approach can help him combat all the big problems which he may face.
FIFA has already extended NC’s mandate until June 30, 2021, and the time-frame is not that big. But it would be better if Haroon took a neutral stance and disposed of the things within the stipulated time-frame. The former NC wasted precious time of around 15 months. Using Covid-19 as an excuse, it did no service to Pakistan football. Its actions, in fact, complicated the situation. More cracks and divisions appeared in the football fraternity where an enmity-like situation exists now which will be disastrous for the country’s football. Even in future it will have its negative impact on the overall football environment. Some people argue that this new committee belongs to Faisal group. They fear that it may favour him. But I don’t believe in these things. If the committee does not remain neutral, it will fail as happened in the case of the committee under former chairman Humza Khan.
The new chairman must keep in mind that he will have to replace staff of the PFF secretariat who were working with the previous regime under Humza Khan in order to avoid problems. It is believed that most of them have links and there is every chance that secret information from within the secretariat would be leaked. He will need a completely new-look team to take a fresh and forceful start.
After coming to Pakistan, he should meet all the major stakeholders and listen to their reservations. He should visit every centre of the country for meeting the stakeholders without any discrimination. This will help him get first-hand information which will enable him to conduct clubs scrutiny and elections in the most appropriate way. He will need just one month to prepare a solid blue-print before taking a good start to his mission. It would be a great honour for Haroon if he managed to dispose of the long-standing dispute which has destroyed the most sought-after sport in Pakistan. Nothing is impossible in this world if you are committed, sincere and have the courage to face the challenge.
Money-earning cannot make a person great. A person’s stature is known by his deeds. If he is able to hold elections successfully he will get the prayers of millions of those people who depend on this sport for their bread and butter. If Haroon follows the previous NC, legal issues will be created and the electoral process could be stalled because of litigation. And if that happens again then I am convinced FIFA will suspend Pakistan. It means we will completely bury our football then. I also request the football stakeholders to assist the new NC, set aside their differences and restore the PFF so that football activities could be brought back. FIFA and AFC are committed to contributing to football development heavily. Soon after taking charge, FIFA president Infantino announced a huge increase in the association funding a few years ago.
However, because of the conflict in Pakistan football, the country could not avail itself of the benefits of the huge money input from the world and continental bodies. Let’s hope things change from now. Good luck to the new NC set-up.