by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee has approached a renowned security company to ensure the security of its members, its staff, the protection of the PFF headquarters building in Lahore and its valuable equipment.
“After a due deliberation we have finalised a reliable security plan which is being implemented now. The top priority is to ensure the security of the PFF Secretariat building and staff members,” NC’s senior member Shahid Khokhar told ‘The News’ on Friday.
“For this we are already in contact with a leading security agency. An international standard mechanism will be adopted,” Shahid said.
Three times during the last seven years or so the PFF headquarters in Lahore has come under attack from various groups.
The PFF headquarters has been established with the generous support from the world football governing body (FIFA).
“The incidents in the past substantially damaged Pakistan’s reputation in international community. And because of these incidents FIFA suspended Pakistan two times in such a short period which is a rare example in international football,” Shahid said.
“The equipment was damaged and such a beautiful building was ruined. Still there are no utility services in the Secretariat. Electricity, gas and water are not there and such things will be restored as quickly as possible,” Shahid said.
“It happened in the past because the building was not fully secured. This aspect was ignored in the past but now it is not possible for us to close our eyes in this respect,” Shahid said.
“NC is not a party to the PFF election process. Working in such an environment where we don’t feel ourselves secure will build undue pressure on the committee which will hamper its working. We need such an environment where we can work with complete freedom and without any pressure,” Shahid pointed out.
He said entry into the PFF headquarters during the PFF elections will be limited.
“However, players and teams officials who will stay at the headquarters hostel will not be affected by this plan,” Shahid said.
“Moreover, there will be an international-level surveillance system,” he said.
“All parties who contest elections should understand that since the incident happened in March last year we have not made any compromise on any front and we will not do the same in future. We want to hold free, fair and transparent elections, which is the only solution to Pakistan’s football issues,” he said.
“We will not compromise on principles and if anyone plans any adventure he should know that he will fail but such an effort will further damage the country’s reputation. Another such incident will take Pakistan to the brink of such international sanctions which will not be easy to get lifted,” Shahid warned.
He said the electoral process will also be secured.
“We will make the election process fully secured InshaAllah. FIFA is already strongly backing Pakistan and will keep supporting for the betterment of the game in the country,” Shahid said.
NC is working hard these days on bringing the PFF Secretariat into a proper order which will pave the way for recruiting staff for the Secretariat and hiring coaches and Director Technical.
FIFA a few days ago lifted the suspension which it had imposed on Pakistan in April last year for third party interference. FIFA has also extended the mandate of NC for a year until June 30, 2023, during which the committee will not only have to hold the PFF elections but it will also have to run day-to-day football activities.