In the Meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Inter-Provincial Coordination held under the Chairmanship of Senator Mian Raza Rabbani on 7th October, 2021; Pakistani Olympian athletes Mr. Talha Talib, Weightlifer and Mr. Arshad Nadeem, Javelin Thrower were invited and presented souvenirs as a token of appreciation for their performance in the Tokyo Olympics 2021 .
At the onset, Committee appreciated the performance of Pakistani Olympian athletes Mr. Talha Talib, Weightlifer and Mr. Arshad Nadeem, Javelin Thrower, lauded their struggles to reach at this level of excellence and wished them best for the future endeavours.
The Olympians thanked the Committee for invitation and voiced their concerns and difficulties being faced by them during training and performance at the Olympics. The concern of abolishing the departmental sports was highlighted by them. Committee strongly recommended that until the implementation of new Sports Policy; the Ministry must ensure that athletes associated with various departments don’t go jobless and face financial issues.
Committee discussed the approach of Ministry to discourage the departmental sports system. Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination, Dr. Fehmida Mirza clarified that departmental sports are not being abolished however under the new Sports policy the regional sports shall be encouraged. Ministry officials informed the committee members that departments are being told to support any of the regional teams rather than creating their own departmental team. Regional system is being implemented as per the vision of the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Committee was informed that Prime Minister is of the view that selection for departmental teams is not based on Merit and regional sports teams get more following and interest from the people.
Senator Mushtaq Ahmed was of the view that this shift from departmental system to regional should not be done in haste and all the aspects need to be considered before going ahead with this radical change. Chairman Committee said that proposed Sports Policy shall be taken up again during the proposed in-camera meeting.
Chairman Committee also appointed a three member sub-committee to look into the working functions and constitutions of 41 sports federations in Pakistan.
Committee received comprehensive briefing from the Chairman, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Rameez Hassan Raja on the role, functions and overall performance in the last three years along with the future strategies of reforms/restructuring.
Chairman PCB remarked that everyone has to work in collaboration for development of Cricket in the Country. We have to employ innovative strategies. Every department including Marketing department and Legal department have to play their role. We are trying to revive School Cricket in the country. School cricket is the foundation through which quality players can come forward and perform for Pakistan at international stage. Sadly this nursery was cutt off. Rameez Raja informed the committee members that there was uncertainty in first class cricket. After resuming his duties as PCB chairman first thing he did was to increase the retainer of about 200 first class cricketers by 1 lac. Being financially secure would make people focus on cricket.
Chairman Committee questioned whether this increase renumeration to first class cricketers will paid by PCB to which Chairman answered that “We are trying to bring in sponsors for this purpose. Being a service industry, we will sell our product”. He further informed that committee members that four Banks have shown interest in the process of uplifting school cricket in Pakistan. “We will make plans and go to these Multi- National Corporations for support”. He added that effective financial and training models will be introduced.
Chairman PCB said that we are also trying to incentivize cricket clubs. We will introduce as system that if a club is able to produce one cricketer which goes onto represent Pakistan at international level than all the expenses of that club will be borne by PCB. HE further expressed that in last few years we have been a mediocre cricket team due to identity crisis and lack of ambassadorial role of cricketers. There is no clarity in pipeline. PCB has done everything for the players to improve the skill level. Chairman PCB further said that he has stressed upon the team that passion for cricket can help us achieve our target of becoming a top cricketing nation.
Chairman PCB Rameez Hassan Raja further added that “I have taken this job as a challenge to fix things and it is our national duty to build the team. Cricket pitches in Pakistan are not good. Coaching system at grass root level is substandard. System needs direction. We will try to give blue print of our plans in four weeks’ time for clarity”. He informed. 50% of the funding for PCB comes from ICC. Global body gets its 90% of its revenue from India, which necessarily means that Indian business houses run Pakistan Cricket. We are trying to diversify our revenue resources so that we can reduce this dependence gradually over the years to come.
Senator Irfan Siddiqui questioned as to what amount of funding PCB gets from Government of Pakistan?. Chairman PCB told that board does not get any sort of funding from government.
Chairman PCB reiterated that we have to build the best team and best cricket economy only than we will be able to survive in international scheme of things.
Senator Mushtaq Ahmed posed a question regarding regional cricket associations. He expressed his reservations regarding under representation of three provinces while Punjab gets three cricket associations and other provinces get one each.
PCB officials informed that three members of the board of governors of PCB are selected from these six regions each year. Criteria for demarcation of regional associations is based on cricketing talent and number of clubs coming from any specific area.
Chairman committee suggested that “Can we ensure rotation policy for selection of members of board of governors in such a manner that in any given year there are not more than two members from Punjab?” To which PCB officials agreed to consider the suggestion.
Senator Mushtaq Ahemd khan questioned as to what has been done regarding training of players so that people do not get involved in corruption and become embarrassment for the nation at international stage.
Chairman PCB replied that he has been quite vocal on not allowing disgraced players to come back to the fold of cricket after completion of their ban. Players are regularly briefed on the issue of corruption. We are paying more money to players so that they do not get lured into corrupt practices.
Regarding the question of umpires Chairman PCB acknowledged that level of umpiring in Pakistan has certainly gone down. We are trying to involve experienced Pakistani umpires and regular training sessions are being arranged in this regard.
Briefing was given by the Chairman, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on the cancellation of visits and series by the New Zealand and England Cricket teams on account of alleged security issues and steps taken in this regard by the PCB.
“I have written strongly worded letter to ICC Chairman therein it was mentioned that ICC has become the political wing of the western bloc and have been reduced to a mere events management company” informed Chairman PCB
He further said that New Zealand is trying to re-schedule the cricket series and we will give good news in a weeks’ time. Chairman PCB applauded the role played by British High Commission to Pakistan.
Chairman PCB lamented the NZ cricket Board for cancelling the series. Ramiz Raja termed the decision politically motivated. “We have one of the best security systems in place. Neutral ICC appointed Security experts have acknowledge the high level of security accorded to visiting teams” said Rameez Hassan Raja.
“New Zealand cricket board did not share the details of so called eminent threat to NZ players on tour to Pakistan which is beyond comprehension. Pakistan’s case is very strong. Cricket experts around the world have supported our stance and have lambasted both the England and NZ cricket boards for the cancellation of the tour. There is huge pressure on English cricket board. I was told by Chairman of English cricket board that “Players are spooked after cancellation from NZ cricket board”. But reports have emerged that neither the players nor the players association were consulted before taking such a decision”. Said Chairman PCB
Committee members asked for the details of the losses incurred by PCB after cancellation of both the tours. PCB officials responded that exact figure of the monetary losses could not be given at the moment due to ongoing evaluation and negotiations with broadcasters.
Chairman Committee Mian Raza Rabbani asked about the ramifications for the board if the cancelled tours are not rescheduled. Chairman PCB answered that we have to find a way to exist with these western cricketing nations while showing some strength. We cannot go overboard.
Chairman Committee commented that this Committee fully endorses the PCB’s letter to ICC. Pakistan is not a pushover. Western Countries must realize that Pakistan has rich cricketing history.
Minister for Interprovincial coordination expressed that Pakistan is being discriminated against at international stage in all the sports not just the cricket.
Report of the Sub-Committee “to study the causes of non-implementation of the Council of Common Interest’s (CCI) decisions and make recommendations for a way forward” was presented in the committee meeting.
Chairman Committee congratulated the members of sub-committee for a comprehensive report. He further said that reports stands presented. Committee members will look into the details and report will be laid in the next meeting of committee for further discussion and adoption.
Meeting was attended by Senators, Gurdeep Singh, Mushtaq Ahmed Khan, Dr. Sikandar Mandhro, Jame Mehtab Hussain Dahar, Irfan Ul Siddiqui, Rana Maqbool Ahmed, Minister for Inter Provincial Coordination, Dr. Fahmida Mirza, Chairman PCB Rameez Hassan Raja and Officials from Ministry of IPC and PCB.