Stop politics and focus on the game, PM tells sports federations [Dawn]

Stop politics and focus on the game, PM tells sports federations [Dawn]

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Friday called upon the country’s sports federations to put an end to the politics and strive towards helping Pakistan win a medal at the next Olympic Games.

“It’s embarrassing that Pakistan, the world’s fifth-largest country in terms of population, comes empty-handed from the Oly­mpics,” the premier said at the closing ceremony of the Quaid-i-Azam Inter-provincial Youth Games here at the Sports Com­plex. “It is time that our sports federations end the off-the-field politics and focus on the game.”

Sport in Pakistan has been hit by issues in several governing bodies over recent years and the country hasn’t won an Olympic medal since its hockey team clinched bronze at the 1992 Games.

The prime minister added that the onus was also on the athletes to rise to the standard of global sport.

“The athletes must examine the existing standards of the games in the world and should strive to meet them,” he added.

PM Abbasi added that with the improved security situation in the country, Pakistan could now aspire to host mega sporting events.

“After the improvement of law and order situation in the country, sports events have not only been held in Islamabad but also in Balochistan and Fata,” he said.

“Previously no such events could be held due to fear of any untoward incident but due to collective efforts of the army, government, police and the nation, we have been able to organise sporting events and can hope for more in the future.”

He added that the government was trying to promote sports culture besides improving the infrastructure and facilities.

The premier also congratulated the ministry and the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) for successfully staging the Inter-provincial Games, adding that the event should be made a “permanent feature to provide the athletes opportunities to exhibit their expertise”.

Upon the request of Federal Minister for Inter-provincial Coordination, Riaz Hussain Pirzada, PM Abbasi said that a “qualify football tournament will be organised in Islamabad within three months”.

The news of the football tournament comes to the relief of fans with the game having been virtually suspended in the country for the last two years due to issues in the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) which saw global football body FIFA ban Pakistan in October.

The prime minister also assured that the country’s first Sports University will be established in Islamabad as the project had been approved.

Pirzada meanwhile, said that during his tenure he had taken various initiatives to restore sports activities in the country. “Now sports are flourishing in entire country,” he said.

Published in Dawn, December 30th, 2017