ISLAMABAD     -   Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) President Major General (R) Muhammad Akram Sahi has expressed his satisfaction over the nine new national records in the 33rd National Games and hoped that javelin thrower Muhammad Arshad, winner of bronze medal in the Asian Games, would easily claim gold medal in the next month’s South Asian Games in Nepal.

In an interview with The Nation on Saturday, Sahi said: “The way records were smashed by the athletes is a very clear indication that the AFP is working on modern lines despite lack of funds. The federation was not provided the meager annual grant of Rs 3.5 million from the last two years. The federation is taking giant strides and the way our athletes are performing without any support from the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) is highly appreciable. I request the government to take stern action against those, who are sitting at the POA for last 16 years. It is shameful that the POA did not want athletics event in Peshawar. But the provincial government took stand, as athletics is the mother of all sports. It is an Olympic sport and Pakistani athletes are able to perform well at international events.

My athletes did a fantastic job even on bad tracks by smashing old records. Arshad almost hit 85 meters mark, which is an indication that he will go long way. Being an athlete, I have no lust of power. I love to work for the promotion of this sport. Since taking over reins of the federation in 2011, my track record is crystal clear. I am the first Pakistani, who is Asian Athletics Federation’s (AAF) Vice President.”

Sahi urged the government to host Asian countries for presenting softer image of Pakistan and said: “When I assumed the charge and became part of the Asian body, I offered the then government to host any Asian event in Pakistan. I can easily bring 45 top Asian countries to Pakistan. At a time when powerhouses like China, Japan, India and others want to host mega championships, I can get rights of top championships. I am still prepared to host the event in Pakistan with the government’s support. It is surprising that the government is very happy to host Sri Lankan or West Indian cricket team to present soft image of Pakistan. But they do not understand that hosting 45 Asian countries can do wonders for the soft and sports-loving image of Pakistan. It was job of the POA to work for the soft image of the country and bring top class events in Pakistan. But they are busy in seeking personal favours. What are the achievements of POA President General (R) Arif Hassan and his team members? How many events they brought to the country? I am surprised that the past governments did not bother to seek explanation from Arif. They were clearly blackmailed in the name of International Olympic Committee (IOC),”

Sahi further added: “Arif had managed to change the entire constitution of the POA. He had removed President of Pakistan as POA Chief Patron and governors from POA Board of Governors, but nobody moved from the government. I was the only one who raised questions on these changes. If the government cannot take action against Arif, then he should be made lifetime president of the POA.”

“I request IPC Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza to immediately order replacement of highly pathetic track in Jinnah Stadium and announce construction of an indoor gymnasium for athletes. POA elections are due next year. Even field should be provided to all, bogus votes must be abolished and unjust changes in POA constitution must be erased. I request Prime Minister Imran Khan to take action against Arif and send him home. I also request Chief of Army Staff and Chief Justice of Pakistan to help sports and athletes,” Sahi concluded.