Pakistan Hockey could face suspension by FIH after Khokar challenges appointment of new PHF president

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-PTI

Pakistan hockey could face suspension from the International Hockey Federation after the appointment of a new President of the Pakistan Hockey Federation by the Caretaker Prime Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar was challenged by predecessor, Brig (retd) Khalid Sajjad Khokar.

In a scene reminiscent of a movie script, the newly-appointed PHF President Mir Tariq Hussain Bugti took charge of the federation headquarters on Saturday in Lahore surrounded by police and his own security guards.

Khokar, who has remained President of the Pakistan Hockey Federation since 2015, told a news conference on Sunday that he would challenge his removal and the appointment of Mir Tariq Hussain Bugti as the new President.

“I will be approaching the courts and will not give up until this unconstitutional and illegal decision is changed,” Khokar said.

The Caretaker PM took the decision to bring in Bugti as President in his capacity as Patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hockey Federation.

Bugti, a former MPA from the Balochistan province, was appointed on Friday but Khokar said he would contest the decision.

The new PHF chief has been given mandate to constitute a five-member committee to deal with the day-to-day affairs of the body besides scrutinising clubs and the electoral college to set the foundation for its “free and fair elections”.

After taking charge of the PHF offices in Lahore, he immediately restored the old national selection committee headed by Olympian, Kaleemullah and another former stalwart, Shahnaz Sheikh as the head coach of the national senior team.

Khokar had removed the selection committee and Sheikh last month.

Khokar said he is the legal head of the PHF as he is recognised by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) as the legitimate president of the PHF.

“I will be filing a court case against the government’s decision on Tuesday,” he said.

“I am the legitimate and elected president and I will fight against this decision till my last breath.” Khokar has faced criticism for his handling of the PHF and tendency to take U-turns on his decisions and is blamed by many former Olympians and critics for the gradual slide in Pakistan hockey.

Khokar claims he has spent his own money and from his friends and well-wishers to keep the federation running.

He also claimed that the PHF office in Lahore was “taken over through illegal actions”.

“I wanted to avoid confrontation but I have now been forced to approach the IOC and FIH,” he said.

Khokar has been on a warpath with the government since last year when the Pakistan Sports Board’s (PSB) rapped him for not holding the PHF elections.

The PSB constituted a committee to hold the elections but Khokar called a congress of the PHF and held elections himself which led to his re-election as the controversy was put to bed.

In August, Khokar and his office bearers were declared “suspended” in a notification issued by the PSB.

“It would have been better if Khokar received me and handed over the charge to me over a cup of tea,” Bugti told the media after taking charge.

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