Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday lifted the ban on departmental sports across the country to “revive competition” between various teams, saying that it would nourish the capacity and capability of aspiring athletes.

The ban on departmental sports was imposed in the country during the PTI tenure at the behest of the then prime minister Imran Khan. Subsequently, the federal government had instructed all public departments, corporations and autonomous bodies to stop their funding to sports teams and instead begin diverting them to regional teams.

Most sportsmen were employed by departments, including javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem and Talha Talib, who impressed with their performances in 2021’sTokyo Olympics

Imran had also abolished the departmental setup in cricket, which resulted in thousands of cricketers losing their jobs, a Dawn report said.

The move had left the top brass of several sports departments fuming and earned immense criticism, especially from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

However, the orders had not been not been implemented till now as all the departments resisted discarding the sportspersons from their department. And after the new government assumed power, all the affected stakeholders hoped for the withdrawal of the previous orders.

At a ceremony in Islamabad today, PM Shehbaz formally announced the reversal of Imran’s sports policy, saying: “This will be a healthy endeavor that will encourage the youth to make Pakistan proud in the sports field.”

The event was attended by sportsmen who bagged top positions in the Commonwealth Games and Islamic Solidarity Game this year. The premier distributed cash among the athletes, including Nuh Dastagir and Arshad Nadeem, and congratulated them on their wins.

“You have made the country proud and are an inspiration for our youth,” he told them, adding that the entire nation was proud of the outstanding performance of the players.

He also expressed confidence that lifting the ban on departmental sports would would bring more laurels to the country and help athletes achieve success in their respective games.

Later, in a tweet, the Prime Minister’s Office said that the PTI government’s decision had rendered thousands jobless. “PM Shehbaz, after assuming office, pledged to restore the departmental sports with an aim to promote healthy games among the youth,” it added.

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