FIFA lifts Pakistan's suspension, Normalisation Committee's mandate extended.

KARACHI -- It took nearly 15 months, but Pakistan has finally returned to the international football fold.

FIFA announced on Thursday that the Pakistan Football Federation's (PFF) suspension was being lifted after the global football body received confirmation that its appointed Normalisation Committee for the PFF had 'regained full control of the PFF's premises and was in a position to manage its finances.'

While other modalities will take time to complete, this immediate relief for Pakistan football will mean that the national team can now take part in Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA competitions.

Pakistan's national teams have been bereft of international action due to the crisis in the PFF. Over the last four years, the men's team has played just seven international matches, while the women's team has not even stepped onto a football pitch once.

It was at the FIFA Congress in Doha at the end of March where the all-powerful Bureau of the FIFA Council had been given the power to lift the suspension on Pakistan once 'the pertinent requirements had been met'.

Pakistan was suspended by FIFA in April last year after PFF headquarters were seized from the NC by a group of football officials led by Ashfaq Hussain Shah, who claimed that the Haroon Malik-led committee wasn't willing to hold elections of the body.

Ashfaq's group, which came into power following an election of the PFF held by the Supreme Court (which wasn't recognised by FIFA) had handed over the PFF headquarters to the NC upon its appointment back in September 2019.

The main mandate of the NC is to hold fresh elections, which have been mired in conflict and crisis since the disputed elections held back in 2015.

Out of office, the NC sought government support to get back control of its offices and a vital breakthrough was reached in March when it regained control of the PFF headquarters.

However, the PFF accounts remain frozen after the NC obtained a stay order following the takeover, preventing Ashfaq's group from accessing them.

PFF NC member Shahid Khokar told Dawn on Thursday that the NC would receive funding from FIFA directly for now, as a case regarding the...

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