The elections of the Chess Federation of Pakistan took place last week, on June 4, at the Serena Hotel in Khayaban-e-Suharwardy. Mr Muhammad Hanif Qureshi was elected as the new president after receiving the trust of 82% of the electoral census, and 100% of the total votes issued.
This convincing result puts an end to a period of internal conflict within the federation that was seriously affecting chess activities in Pakistan, to the point that in all of 2020, only 4 rated tournaments had been organized in this country of 221 million inhabitants. The last IM norm by a Pakistani player was obtained 36 years ago.
The elections were held under the supervision of the International Chess Federation. To break the deadlock in situations like this, FIDE has established a new figure, the "Reserve Delegate", with the aim to facilitate solving conflicts and organizing fair and legitimate elections.
"The first step to facilitate cooperation among various parties and provide the platform for elections was made in December 2021 when under the leadership of the Reverse Delegate, a Memorandum was signed in Dubai on 11-12 December 2021. This document has become a framework for our further actions", explains Dana Reizniece-Ozola, who was appointed as Reverse Delegate for Pakistan.
After consultations with the interested parties and receiving the approval from the Pakistan Sports Board to proceed with elections, on May 23 2022 the Reverse Delegate has announced the electoral process with the elections scheduled for June 4 2022.
The following Election Commission was formed, composed of representatives of FIDE, the Asian Chess Federation, and the Sports Board of Pakistan:
1. Election Commissioner: Dana Reizniece–Ozola – FIDE Managing Director, Reverse Delegate;
2. Member – Aleksandr Martynov – FIDE Legal Advisor;
3. Member Khalil Ahmed Khan – Legal Advisor, Asian Chess Federation;
Observer: Dr Rashid Alazni, Asian Chess Federation;
Observer: Mohammad Shahid, Deputy DG Technical, Pakistan Sports Board.
FIDE would like to thank the support received from the Asian Chess Federation, that not only acted as supervisors during the elections but also assisted during the whole process.
"I congratulate the new President Hanif Qureshi, and I truly hope that the new leadership will use their mandate and time for the benefit of chess. Pakistan deserves it. Being the birthplace of the game and also the youngest population in the world, it has great potential that has clearly been underused. (…) I hope that our experience with Pakistan can serve as a good benchmark of how a complex situation may be solved in cooperation with FIDE partners and local authorities", concludes Dana.
The results are already noticeable. Since August 8, when FIDE appointed a Reverse delegate, Pakistan resumed the organization of chess activities, holding 93 new tournaments, 71 of them FIDE-rated. 576 new players were registered, and FIDE is studying ways to support this influx of new players, so they can have access to training, participation in international events, and opportunities to increase their ratings and acquire titles.
Only one week after the elections, the 32nd Pakistan Chess Championship and the 7th Women's National Chess Championship kicked off in Gilgit Baltistan, an important step in determining the composition of the Olympic Team. After four rounds, two players with a perfect score, Junaid Sohail and Amer Karim, are leading the event. In the Women's Championship, Sehrish Rehman temporarily tops the standings table, ahead of 31 more players.
The Minister of Sports attended the opening of the Championship and expressed his intention to support the development of chess in the country. "We are offering 50 chess sets to schools through the ministries of education and sports to create ten chess clubs in schools here. We will provide technical support to them, as well as training too. The first of these clubs was inaugurated on Friday, with the presence of ministry officials. The chess for school program of FIDE will reach even the far remote area of the world close to K-2 and Rakaposhi mountains!" explained the enthusiastic new president, Mr Hanif Qureshi.