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Pirzada satisfied with his work, willing to serve again

By Alam Zeb Safi
May 21, 2018

KARACHI: The federal minister for inter-provincial coordination (IPC) Riaz Hussain Pirzada on Sunday said that he is happy with his work he has done for sports promotion in the country during his five-year tenure.

“I am fully satisfied and happy with the way I worked for sports promotion in my capacity as IPC minister,” Pirzada told ‘The News’ in an interview. “The playing fields were closed; we opened them. There were various challenges; we overcame them,” he added.

When asked if he again got a chance to serve as IPC minister, Pirzada said he had a passion for sports and would serve sports again if he got another opportunity.Just a few days before his tenure as federal minister ends, Pirzada-led Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Executive Committee directed to initiate the process of insurance of athletes with the State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan.

“As many as 100 athletes of each federation will be insured under this programme,” the minister said.He also revealed that during his tenure 25,000 trees were planted at the Pakistan Sports Complex, Islamabad.

“Of them, 10,000 pine trees were gifted to us by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister,” Pirzada said. He praised the Prime Minister for supporting him. “Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has done a commendable job for sports during his short time as PM. Whenever I sent him any file regarding fund he approved it without wasting any time. We gave cash awards to the athletes for winning medals in international events,” the minister said.

“A grant of Rs500 million has also been approved by the PM. Its purpose is to make timely preparations for the South Asian Games which Pakistan is expected to host in 2020. For successfully conducting the South Asian Games, we need to re-lay athletics tracks, upgrade swimming pool and renovate halls of the Pakistan Sports Complex,” Pirzada said.

He said for undertaking different projects a PC-1 of Rs2.5 billion had already been approved. The minister said that he specified the Pakistan Sports Complex hostels only for the sportsmen to stay in. “Before that the facility used to be given to irrelevant people on rent. I ended the practice and ordered that only players and their officials would utilise the facility,” Pirzada said.

He said that in his tenure the Quaid-e-Azam Inter-Provincial Games were organised twice which was a big achievement. “After Army rooted out terrorism, our ministry decided to hold the Quaid-e-Azam Inter-Provincial Games. The Islamabad DIG and various agencies helped us stage impressive shows in the federal capital in which thousands of athletes from across the country showcased their talent,” the minister said.

When asked about the conflict between PSB and Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) in the initial days of his tenure as federal minister, Pirzada said when he came to know that General Sahi and his party were wrong he backtracked and restored working relations with the POA which helped the country avoid international sanctions.

“And now due to courts decisions our football issue has also been resolved. And we have no issue with FIFA,” the minister said.He said in his tenure a sports university was also established. “It has been finalised. And soon under the Higher Education Commission (HEC) classes will be initiated in some portion of the Pakistan Sports Complex,” he said.

He said the new Director General of PSB would be recruited as per new rules. “Although the recruitment process got delayed eventually a new DG will be recruited as per new recruitment rules which have been made under the directions of the Supreme Court. We have released Amir Ali Ahmed as acting DG PSB and he is being replaced by Rana Shakeel of accounts section of the IPC as new Acting DG,” Pirzada said.

“We used to write to every province that every society should have sports facilities. Barring Bahria Town, no society has sports facilities. I also wanted schools to play a leading role in preparing players for national duty,” Pirazada said.

When asked what advice he would give to the POA chief Lt Gen (retd) Syed Arif Hasan, Pirzada said he should not keep distance from people. “He is a former general and is a man of protocol. He should not keep distance from people, but instead mix with them. If he does that, it would leave an impact,” Pirzada said.