However, it was sad that only about a dozen former players demonstrated. Some of the former greats included Samiullah, Shahnaz Sheikh, Muhammad Saqlain and Qamar Zia. They were joined by a few other people holding placards expressing anguish over the state of hockey in the country.

But no parliamentarian bothered to come out and meet them or find out about their grievances. "Such is the apathy of the people who rule this country that they don't care about what is happening with our national sport, hockey, which has brought us so many laurels in the past," a protester said.
     
Pakistan is a three-time Olympic champion (1960, 1968 and 1984) and four-time winners of the World Cup, an event they introduced in 1971. But the national team has even failed to qualify for next year's edition to be held in Holland.
     
Samiullah, Shahnaz and Islahuddin Siddiqui (conspicuous by his absence yesterday) have been spearheading a campaign to have the government appoint an ad-hoc body to run hockey affairs in the country but have so far met with no success.

Although they have termed the recent elections of the PHF, in which Akhtar Rasool and Rana Mujahid were elected president and secretary, as a big sham, the Prime Minister despite being the chief patron of the game has not given them a hearing so far.
 
The PHF, on its part, is waiting for the government to release a special grant of around 300 million rupees as it says it is fast running out of funds to run the game or even pay salaries of its employees.
     
The national sport hit rock bottom recently when the Pakistan junior team finished ninth in the World Cup in India.

(Agencies)

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