by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Normalisation Committee chairman Haroon Malik on Monday said that he was ready for dialogue to resolve the issues with those who “have occupied the headquarters but will never compromise on principles”.
Talking to ‘The News’, he said: “I am open to a respectful dialogue as I want to resolve this issue in order to protect Pakistan from dire consequences. “But I will make it clear that I will not compromise on principles. First they should respectfully vacate the FIFA Football House and I will sit with them the way I used to meet them,” Haroon said.
He made it clear that he would not conduct the PFF elections on the basis of the 2015 list. “Yes, the elections will not be held on the basis of the 2015 list as there are several issues in that list,” Haroon said.
The other day Ashfaq Group took the PFF headquarters control from the FIFA-installed NC, a development which put Pakistan on the brink of international suspension.
Haroon said he had had discussions with FIFA at two different levels. “Today I had a discussion with FIFA at two different levels. FIFA had asked for filing the incident report and the names of the people involved in the incident. We have forwarded every detail to FIFA, including pictures of the people involved in the whole episode,” he said.
“Now it will be seen in two or three days what action FIFA will take and what I recommend,” Haroon said. “I have told FIFA to give me some time as I want to resolve the matter locally. Let’s see what happens,” he said.
“You know the incident made international headlines and international media has started highlighting it which is damaging the image of Pakistan. Pakistan will be completely isolated if FIFA imposes sanctions and I fear for the players, their families and those whose bread and butter is attached with football,” Haroon said.
He alleged that his secretariat staff is also being threatened. Haroon said he was going to unveil elections roadmap by the first week of April and was on his way to initiate the things when this happened.
Canada-based Haroon replaced Humza Khan as PFF NC chairman early this year. Following a few years of turmoil during which Pakistan also faced FIFA sanctions in 2017 which were lifted in March 2018, FIFA in September 2019 installed Normalisation Committee, giving it nine months to hold the PFF elections. However, NC under Humza Khan failed to meet the deadline. FIFA then extended it until the end of 2020 but again the committee failed.
FIFA then further gave six months extension until June 30, 2021. Humza in the meantime last year resigned and was replaced by Haroon. The new development has also put Pakistan’s participation in this year’s SAFF Cup in Dhaka in danger.
Sources told ‘The News’ that some people have started taking the initiative to bring both Haroon and Ashfaq Group on the negotiating table to resolve the issue.