An investigation committee formed by Punjab Sports Minister Jahangir Khanzada to probe harassment allegations leveled by Syeda Sadia, former goalkeeper for the women's national hockey team, against Saeed Khan, the team's head coach, has declared the former's claims "false and unfounded."
The five-member committee's report, submitted to the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), states that Sadia had accused Khan of harassment because she was dropped from the team. Based on its findings, the report recommends that Sadia be banned from playing hockey on both the domestic and national level for a year for violating discipline by hurling "baseless allegations".
Her teammate Iqra Javed, who was reportedly an eyewitness and had supported Sadia's claims publicly, was dropped from the team for her support for Sadia. The report recommends that PHF impose a year-long ban on her as well, for the same reasons.
The committee comprised Rashid Butt, Secretary of the PHF's Women's Wing Tanzeela Amir Cheema, Rahat Khan, Chand Parveen and team manager Col Ahmad Nawaz.
Tanzeela Amir Cheema's inclusion in the committee is bound to raise questions regarding the impartiality of the probe. When contacted by Dawn.com soon after the story had broken, she had said there was "absolutely no need" for an inquiry into the matter.
"Why will we take action if someone is making false allegations?" she had said.
Speaking to Dawn.com, Sadia termed the investigation report a "pack of lies".
"We [Iqra and Sadia] went in front of the inquiry committee two to three times and I told them everything that happened with me and yet they reached this [false] conclusion," she said.
"The first time I went to record my statement in front of the committee, I was asked to sign a document that said that I had accused the coach of harassment because I was upset over not being selected," she claimed.
"I asked them if they thought I had lost my mind," she added.
In October, Sadia had sent out a video message accusing Khan of assaulting her after an argument on the night of October 8.
According to Sadia, she had been staying back in Lahore after failing to qualify for the national side in the trials held on October 6. She said she had stayed back because her manager had asked her to collect her dues when they were cleared.
On the evening of the incident, October 8, she said she was told to immediately leave the hockey stadium by Khan during an evening reception. Khan had abused her verbally and told her to depart immediately, she had said. She alleged that Khan had then followed her to her room and grabbed her by the arm.
According to Sadia, other players who witnessed the assault and rushed to help her were told to turn back by the coach.
He then tried to enter her room forcefully, gagged her and held her hand, she alleged. She said the coach was forced to release her after she tried to scream and run.
After the incident, she said, she had been so distraught that she immediately packed her bags and left for home.
She also alleged that, a few days prior to the assault, Khan had given her his phone number and asked her to call him "at night".
Khan had denied the allegations, calling them "baseless" and claiming that Sadia was upset because she wasn't selected for the national squad.
His statements were seconded by Tanzeela Aamer Cheema. When asked about the incident by Dawn.com, she had said: "there is absolutely no need for any inquiry into the matter".
"Why will we take action if someone is making false allegations?" Tanzeela had said, denying that Sadia's version of events ever took place.
"That girl [Sadia] does not know anything. Do you think if something like this happened to one of our girls, we would just let it go?"
"I was there, nothing happened," Tanzeela had said, before abruptly hanging up.
Sadia had refused to back down, however, and said that she would continue to pursue a case and push for an independent investigation if the PHF refused to hold an inquiry.
"When it comes down to my respect, I cannot tolerate it. I will not sit quietly," she had told Dawn.com.
The day after the incident took place, she had written to Sports Minister Punjab Jahangir Khanzada; detailing the incident and urging him to investigate the matter.
Khanzada had subsequently ordered a probe into the incident, which was delayed repeatedly before it was concluded and the report submitted on Dec 26.