By Muhammad Babur
Dismal performance of Pakistani athletes at the Asian Games Jakarta Palembang 2018 demanded an in-depth probe which deteriorated image of the country at the international level. The Incumbent government led by former cricket captain Imran Khan vows to streamline government department through good governance sports also needs his attention to bring laurels for the country. Asian Games is the premier sports event of the continent and second biggest after Olympics which have the largest population on earth, good performance here put the country on world map but our athletes failed to take this opportunity with their worse performance. Government spend millions of rupees of tax payer money to send more than 358 strong contingent to Jakarta on the basis of selection made by the relevant sports federations and it was strongly recommended by Pakistan Olympic Association with the aim to give better performance and put Pakistan at reasonable place on the medal table but they failed miserably and came back with worst ever performance of the Asiad extravaganza. It was not the first time that Pakistani athletes failed to live up to the expectations in multi sports event but every time they got escaped by giving lame excuses like lack of funds and training opportunities.
Pakistani athletes participated in 35 disciplines of the Asian games that is Archery, Badminton, Baseball, Boxing, Bridge, Fencing, Hockey, Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Handball, Judo, Jujitsu, Kabbadi, Karate, Kurash, Paragliding, Pencak Silat, Rowing, Rugby Sevens, Sailing, Sepak Takraw, Shooting, Soft Tennis, Sports Climbing, Squash, Swimming, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis ,Volleyball, Weightlifting, Wrestling and Wushu and could only manages to win only 4 bronz medals. The athlete like Shah Hussain Shah who got trained in Japan the home of Judo also failed to win a medal and while living in Japan since his birth and continuously using the name of Pakistan for participation in mega events like Olympics with the blessing of Pakistan Olympic Association. He also took part in Asian Games under the umbrella of POA since the Pakistan Judo Federation was not affiliated with the POA. This recent show of Pakistani athletes at the Jakarta Palembang Asian Games proved that Pakistan sports system needs a purge on immediate basis and responsible of failure in Asian Games should be bring for accountability. There is no concept of accountability in Pakistan sports neither for federations or players who goes on joy ride and bring bad name for the country which gave culprits the courage to go on with their mala fied intentions. Pakistani athletes enjoys a good reputation in the previous Asian Games and Olympics and won medals in hockey, yachting, boxing, wrestling, athletics etc. Pakistan shows its worst performance in 18th Asian Games, a nation of 200 million people could only manage to get 34th position out of 45 nation competitions on medal table with total 37 participating countries.
Nargis Hazara in Karate and Arshad Nadeem in javelin throw were the surprised medalist and they took Pakistan ahead of Myanmar, Afghanistan and Syria on medal table.
Pakistan Olympic Association and Pakistan Sports Board were in loggerhead before the games on the player’s numbers but at the end sports mafia wins and 358 member strong Pakistani contingent manages to land in Jakarta. Hockey, Squash,Wrestling, Boxing and kabbadi were the biggest hope of winning the gold medal at the Asiad but all are failed miserably. Only Kabbadi and squash manages to win bronz medal while hockey, boxing and wrestling return empty handed. It is worth mentioning here that Boxing federation is leading by POA secretary general Khalid Mahmood himself who is helm of affair of Pakistan sports for the last 25 years, before coming into POA he was in wapda sports board the largest employer of sports men and women in the country and most of the sports federations of Pakistan office bearer also belongs to wapda.
POA and PSB are the two biggest stake holders of sports in the country but both were never on same page before the mega event. POA represent its affiliated sports federations but it look always busy in defending them for various reasons rather than directing them to improve their performance. Before the Asian Games there were lots of discussion on the number of players for Asian Games and time should spend on players training spend on deciding their numbers.
There were also hue and cry of joy riding from different sports organizers who do not enjoys great relations with POA and PSB accompanying the Asian Games contingent and the performance of the teams supported their argument that most of the office bearer of sports federations were in Jakarta for sightseeing with their family rather than participating in the event.
Prime Minister Imran Khan is very busy in running the state affairs but sports lovers of the country demands from him to also streamline the sports system in the country through his vision of Tabdeeli and good governance.