by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: As many as 44 players of different sports disciplines of Pakistan Steel Mills have been transferred to security department which has raised many eyebrows.
‘The News’ has learnt that these include players of cricket, football, hockey and boxing. According to insiders, there are also four female athletes serving the PSM but they have not been disturbed.
Those who have been transferred include renowned Olympian boxer Abdul Rasheed Qambrani and 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games silver medallist Abdul Khaliq.
Qambrani has been deployed at a barrier. Sources said such a low job for such a high-profile Olympian pugilist was a disgrace. “We salute Qambrani. He is Pakistan’s precious asset and we cannot see him doing such a low job,” a team source said.
This correspondent also learnt that in football team there are several graduates and some have bagged master’s degrees.
“How can you send such qualified people to security jobs!” a source said.
Players said that they don’t know how to operate guns and this might land them in deep trouble if any untoward incident happened.
Various team sources blasted a top sports official for unsettling the players since he took charge one and a half years ago.
“The official cannot see us serving as players. He does not know the sports requirements. Players’ task is to play. He could not bear it when we used to go homes after holding a couple of hours training. You know it’s sports requirement but he does not know this,” a player said.
Sources said that footballers had revolted when their teammate Sarfraz had been sent to NAB as a peon last year.
This correspondent has learnt that teams are not being given training and other expenses. The players and officials meet these expenses from their own pockets.
Sources said that players have not been given any promotion for the last 13 years.
Sources said that the PSM has 9000 employees and all are staying idle.
“If such a huge manpower is staying idle then why are only players being unsettled,” a team source questioned.
‘The News’ learnt through sources that the three major grounds owned by the PSM are being commercialised.
When contacted, Pakistan Steel Sports Secretary Syed Mohammad Sohail said that as per rules players are also to perform duties as and when assigned to them. “They also have to perform duty as per PSM rules,” Sohail told ‘The News’.
He said they have been transferred to security department due to shortage of manpower.
“Even in the past when it was needed players used to be transferred to security department and they also used to play,” he said.
“PSM is not in a position to hire fresh people. Most of these players are over forty years,” Sohail said.
He also said that all these teams were incomplete. “These all teams were incomplete. They never played any match without guest players so it is in the best interest of PSM and players to cooperate because they are nice people and PSM needs them,” Sohail said.
Strongly reacting to the issue, PTI MNA and one of the key football stakeholders of the country Malik Amir Dogar has pledged that he would inform the Prime Minister Imran Khan about the situation.
“I am really shocked to hear about how Steel Mills footballers are being treated. I will inform the PM about the issue and will also talk to the Steel Mills chairman, secretary and will even talk to the minister,” Dogar said in an audio message.
“I am ready to serve footballers, not only those in Steel Mills but also in other departments. It is my obligation to help them and resolve their issues. How will sports survive when players are shifted to other departments,” Dogar questioned.