by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: Pakistan Football Federation’s (PFF) Normalisation Committee has informed the government that it is time for it to get the PFF secretariat vacated, warning that if FIFA banned Pakistan for five years, then any dialogue will be of no use.
Haris Azmat, a member of the PFF Normalisation Committee, met the IPC Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza in Islamabad on Monday to discuss the consequences of “the occupation of the PFF headquarters and accounts by the Ashfaq group”.
‘The News’ learnt that it was a productive meeting which lasted for around two hours in which various aspects of the matter came under deliberations.
Haris briefed the minister about the stance of FIFA. He said that FIFA had already initiated a five-year ban process and if that decision was taken then a dialogue would be of no use. He said that those occupying the PFF secretariat must vacate it unconditionally.
The minister was also told that the NC had the mandate to hold the PFF elections by the end of this year provided any impediments were not created.
The Ashfaq group recently occupied the PFF headquarters in Lahore, saying that NC did nothing towards the electoral process during the 18 months in which it was in possession of the offices. FIFA then gave a deadline to the group to vacate the headquarters and when the Ashfaq group ignored it the world body suspended Pakistan.
The minister was also informed that the elections would not be conducted on the basis of the existing clubs list.
The minister was also told that FIFA’s stand was that the existing NC would remain intact even if the Football House remained in the possession of the Ashfaq group for two years.
Sources said that the minister was keen to resolve the issue which will pave the way for lifting FIFA’s sanctions. Haris assured the minister that she would be informed before every step taken towards the electoral process. A few days ago the minister held a meeting with the Ashfaq group and discussed the issue in detail.
Haris also informed the minister that those who had occupied the PFF secretariat could be banned for life by FIFA. However, she was told if the secretariat was vacated peacefully, the NC would not push this case. However, she was told that NC would not be able to do anything if FIFA banned those who were “involved in the PFF occupation”.
Meanwhile, sources told ‘The News’ that PTI MNA Amir Dogar, a senior member of the Ashfaq group, held a meeting at Lahore with NC member Shahid Khokhar the other day. Khokhar briefed him about FIFA’s stance and the consequences for Pakistan football if the world body imposed a five-year ban on the country which would completely block Pakistan’s participation in international events.
Abdul Mohi Shah from Islamabad adds: Haris told the minister that there would be no dialogue or a roadmap to hold free and fair elections until the faction occupying the Football House vacated it.
“There will be no dialogue with any faction as the Normalisation Committee will only act on the mandate given by the FIFA. The game’s governing body does not believe in any blackmailing or breach of the constitutional clauses. Once the faction vacated the House, the Normalisation Committee would unveil the roadmap towards the elections,” Haris told ‘The News’.
He added that he promised to share all the details on the roadmap to hold free and fair elections once the Normalisation Committee took over the Football House in Lahore. “We have no issue in sharing the details with the government,” he said.
Haris said that the biggest problem was the fake clubs’ issue. “There is a constitutional clause that each and every club must have a bank account. A number of clubs do not have one so there is a need to conduct fresh scrutiny of the clubs to determine which club is genuine and has the right to vote, but these efforts could only be initiated once we get back to the offices in Lahore,” he added.
Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Director General Col (r) Asif Zaman, who was also present in the meeting, told ‘The News’ the government was ready to play its role in solving the issue. “We want to play the necessary role in solving the issues to get the suspension lifted,” he said.
Asif added that the faction which was occupying the Football House in Lahore would be called up for the meeting. “We want an amicable settlement of the issue. For that we are planning to invite the PFF faction. Hopefully, the matter will be resolved soon,” he said.