Karachi, the financial hub of Pakistan, is also the hub of sporting activities, especially cricket and during the holy month of Ramazan, cricketing activities in the city see a surge unlike any in other month.
The commercial capital of Pakistan has seen Ramazan cricket growing in popularity and stature by leaps and bounds, judging by the flux of competitions that are organised during the holy month.
However, it seems the PCB is now intending on disrupting the festival cricket, as it is generally referred to, by forcing the organisers to pay a hefty fee to get a ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOC) from the board.
The governing body of cricket in the country is quite preposterous and uncalled for. There are several events which have become a symbol of recognition as far as Ramazan festival cricket is concerned.
Before the beginning of the holy month, the organisers apply for the NOC from the PCB and usually get the approval without any objections raised. This time some vested interests in the PCB have embarked upon a drive that could ultimately spell doom for cricket in Ramazan, with only those having adequate resources to meet the unfair demand would be able to stage the tournament.
The Naya Nazimabad Ramazan Cup organizers, is one of them, have already been issued a provisional NOC so that their event goes ahead as planned from Monday night at the Lawai Cricket Stadium.
It has come about only after meeting the PCB request of paying up a cool sum, which is supposed to be paid to organise a televised competition.
On the other hand, Karachi Gymkhana, which has the distinction of being among the pioneers of Ramazan cricket, are now on the verge of staging the 33rd edition of their popular Ramazan tournament from the first day of the holy month at the KG Ground, a venue which played a key role in earning Pakistan its Test status after the national side defeated the MCC here in December 1951.
The prestigious and the oldest of Ramazan competitions hold little value for the PCB which is only focusing to get the extra bucks from the organisers.
As a result, the Karachi Gymkhana are now desperate to acquire the NOC, having reportedly paid Rs 500,000 for this non-televised event to the cricket board.
However, in order to minimise their losses in view of this new PCB clause, the Karachi Gymkhana organisers seek an additional amount of Rs 25,000 from each of the competing teams, with every side having already paid up Rs125,000 as entry fee.
Meanwhile, other renowned Ramadan events still hangs in the balance.
The Corporate Cup, which is the brainchild of former Pakistan captain Moin Khan, the Aga Khan Ramadan Cricket Festival and Dr S.M.A. Shah Trophy are a few of them.
Dr Junaid Ali Shah, son of Dr Shah, talking to media at the Karachi Press Club, was vocal in his criticism of the controversial PCB move, while clearly stating that it is high time to drag the sports out of the clutches of politicians and armed forces personnel.
“Not only cricket, other sports are suffering [for long] at the hands of the political figures, bureaucrats and the armed forces personnel. Time has come to raise our voice against this gross injustice. What PCB has resorted to do is totally unwarranted,” Dr Junaid told reporters.
“Unless there are concrete measures put in place, things will remain as they are now. We must weed out those with vested interests and ensure sports are free of politics. In other words steps should be taken to depoliticize all sporting institutions.”
He further said, “What is at stake right now is the future of Ramadan cricket in Karachi. Barring a handful of [well-off] organisers, it is a death-knell for others who organise tournament on a small scale during Ramadan. Cricketers who compete will also be financially hit by this decision of the PCB to charge such a big amount.”
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— The Daily Mail - People's Daily