By our correspondent
LAHORE: Pakistan’s international isolation in football will soon come to an end as Punjab government took a much-needed step and handed over the PFF headquarters in Lahore to the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee.
It has been learnt that the handover process was smooth and the Board of Revenue Punjab senior officials formally handed over the headquarters to the NC senior member Shahid Khokhar in Lahore. Board of Revenue Punjab senior member Babar Hayat Tarar was also present on the occasion.
Shahid was instrumental in the whole process.
This was also confirmed by the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Director General Col (retd) Mohammad Asif Zaman.
“Yes the headquarters has been handed over to the NC as per promise and now the PFF elections process will begin,” Asif told this correspondent.
“It’s a happy development for football as we want to develop this sport in which Pakistan has an immense potential,” Asif said.
“NC is an independent body and now it is its responsibility to go for the PFF elections. We also held a meeting with FIFA the other day and we told FIFA that Pakistan’s football needs to be developed. We also briefed them about the state’s stance regarding development of the sports and football,” the official said.
IPC Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza also congratulated footballers and fans.
“I congratulate football athletes and football fans. Football House has been returned to FIFA. We are looking forward to early restoration of Pakistan membership and a partnership with NC for fair and transparent elections,” Fehmida tweeted.
Meanwhile NC chairman Haroon Malik congratulated the football community on the development.
“Congratulations to the football family on the return of Football House. FIFA NC recognizes and lauds the contributions of Dr Fehmida Mirza in achieving this momentous milestone. We thank the entire football family for their support, it is now time to move forward together,” Haroon tweeted.
NC senior member Shahid Khokhar told this correspondent that it was a smooth handover.
“We are thankful to the Punjab’s Board of Revenue, the Prime Minister Imran Khan, IPC minister Dr Fehmida Mirza, federal minister for Planning Asad Umar, IPC secretary Mohsin Mushtaq and the DG PSB Col (retd) Asif zaman for their role in paving way for smooth handover of the Secretariat,” Shahid said.
It was learnt that after disposing of a few matters NC will write to FIFA and then the world body will take the step to lift suspension and Pakistan will again become eligible to feature in international events.
FIFA suspended Pakistan in the first week of April last year days after Ashfaq Group took control of the headquarters late March.
In November Punjab government then sealed the headquarters on the basis of lease issue. However following fine efforts from the IPC minister Dr Fehmida Mirza it was decided that NC should be handed over the headquarters so that it could start working towards holding elections of the PFF.
Before reaching this decision IPC minister held extensive meetings with the football stakeholders and NC for several months. NC also agreed on an election roadmap with the state and that made a huge breakthrough.
Pakistan’s senior footballer Saddam Hussain also welcomed the development.
“Its a huge development at a right time,” Saddam told The News. “The way IPC minister Dr Fehmida Mirza played her role is highly laudable. She did well for Pakistani footballers whose careers were uncertain. I hope NC will take positive steps, prepare calendar, launch league and start working for Pakistan’s return to international circuit,” Saddam said.
“I am very much happy as we have ahead international events of both men’s and women’s and I am looking forward to the resumption of domestic and international football in the country as soon as possible,” Saddam said.