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TENNIS - National 25 Feb, 2024

Pakistan Tennis Federation Elections & a Big Controversy
Pakistan Tennis Federation Elections & a Big Controversy

Hameed ul Haq

 The Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) Elections, held on February 10, 2024, for the post of President, Secretary, and Treasurer were tainted by a strong controversy right from the start due to a questioned vote. The elections were held, after an inordinate delay of over a year beyond the expiry of the term of the incumbent federation, who desired to prolong its stay for as long as possible.

The Elections featured two panels, one led by Major General Asghar Nawaz (Retd) and another by Aisam ul Haq. The election yielded a split result with the panel of the former winning two important slots of Secretary General and Treasurer while Aisam ul Haq could barely secure the slot of President with a narrow margin of one vote, which is considered disputed. The Chief Election Commissioner, Mr Shakeel Durrani, former Chairman WAPDA presided over the election process and faced a predicament when a candidate raised a serious objection challenging the eligibility of the vote of International Lawn Tennis Club (ILTC) Pakistan, an associate member unit of PTF. The objections were raised in the light of the PTF Constitution and it was pointed out that ILTC having defaulted in payment of dues of PTF for the last five years falls into the status of “expelled member” and hence loses the right to vote.

The more serious amongst the other objections pertained to violation of Article 21 of said Constitutions according to which only the President of an associate member of PTF or his authorized representative can cast the vote. The President of ILTC passed away in March 2021, and with no President elected an aged Secretary of ILTC who is been ridden since long authorized, illegally, a representative to cast the vote in Elections which is considered a flagrant violation of the PTF Constitution.

The Chief Election Commissioner, after duly acknowledging the objections to be genuine allowed the elections process to continue with the proviso that the objections would later be addressed through established rules and forms, as per the PTF Constitution, in a specially called General Meeting of PTF Council, within ten days.

He made it clear that the voting results may alter or elections may be held again if the contested vote is found illegal as per the PTF Constitution. Another surprising aspect was that the observer representative of POA, the parent body of the Country’s sports federations, was kept out of the crucial first phase of the election proceedings when these objections were discussed with the Chief Election Commissioner.

The vote of ILTC assumes significance because it openly nominated and expressed its support for the Panel led by the Aisam ul Haq and if the vote gets void, besides of embarrassment caused, the votes for President PTF will become equal and a tie will occur. The PTF’s outgoing Management, with an obvious bias, has also tried to give a twist to the matter by the incorrect recording of the Chief Elections Commissioner’s decisions in Minutes of Elections, issued on 17 February 2024 which has been promptly noticed by all stakeholders.

Considering the past performance of the previous PTF set-up where no fresh crop of internationally competitive players was prepared resulting in a 4-0 drubbing of Pakistan’s Davis at the hands of an Indian Davis Cup team at Islamabad, there is a requirement that fairness, professionalism and merit is promoted in the tennis affairs.

The holding of elections marred with illegalities and controversies bodes ill for the future of the game. Pakistan Olympics Association and the relevant stakeholders must step in to ensure that the election process of PTF is subjected to fair play, legality, and fairness, in the absence of which the entire edifice of tennis promotion and player development will remain elusive.

(Editor Note: The writer is a former tennis player and achieved many titles for the country. If someone wants to give his point of view about this article Sports Bulletin will welcome, and publish that)