PAKISTAN’S leading athlete, Arshad Nadeem, made the entire nation proud by setting a new record in Commonwealth Games and winning a gold medal for the country in Men’s Javelin Final by throwing 90.
18 meters in his fifth attempt. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif spoke high of the achievements of gold medalists Nooh Butt, Arshad Nadeem, silver medalists Sharif Tahir, Zaman Anwar and Inam Butt and bronze medalists Shah Hussain, Ali Asad and Inayatullah and said that he would meet these triumphant athletes after they return to the country.
The distinctive victory of Arshad Nadeem lifted the otherwise demoralized spirit of the people and this was evident from the positive reaction it triggered right from the layman to the President.
The achievement is significant in the backdrop of consistent complaints by Pakistani athletes of not receiving enough support from the sports authorities in the form of training and infrastructure.
The announcement of the Prime Minister to meet the medalists is surely aimed at honouring these heroes but this is not enough.
The issue was discussed threadbare in a recent meeting of Nazriya Pakistan Council (NPC), which was founded by late Zahid Malik, where a number of suggestions were made both to the government and members of the civil society in this regard.
Noting with concern the plight of our national heroes in different fields, who felt neglected during different periods of their life, the meeting demanded of the Government to devise a comprehensive protocol that these heroes should receive throughout their life.
The protocol, formalized through an act of parliament, should include among other things some financial benefit that could take care of their needs, concessionary air and rail journey, preferential treatment at public dealing offices and their participation in national day functions.
A national database of heroes encompassing their achievements and professional calibre should be prepared that should be available to all so that their services are duly recognized at societal level.
Organizations representing different walks of life should hold special functions in honour of these heroes, they should be invited to speak as a chief guest, people should donate to their cause, write to them and spend quality time with them.
The Ministry of Culture may formulate a policy in this regard with necessary input from the provinces.