What killed Abdul Qadir?

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ISLAMABAD: Legendary cricketer and master of spin, Abdul Qadir, endearingly known as ‘Baoo’, died of cardiac arrest on September 6, but only a few people know that the late cricketer was suffering from severe mental stress because of not having been paid his salary by the Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZBTL) – Qadir’s employer.

Speaking to Pakistan Today, Qadir’s family members said that he was engaged in a tussle with the management of the bank because they had withheld his salary for over 9 months.

The spin wizard had repeatedly tried contacting ZTBL high-ups but to no avail. Later, he tried contacting his old friend and former colleague, Prime Minister Imran Khan, but could not get a meeting with him. He met senior Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders Asad Umar, Umar Dar and Asad Qaiser instead, who failed to resolve the matter.

Upon being approached, ZTBL Vice President Saad Zia said that the human resource department had not yet furnished a report regarding the matter.

According to documents available with Pakistan Today, ZTBL management had hired Abdul Qadir through offer letter No KSSL/HR&A/1(2)2009/5854 on September 28, 2009 through ZTBL subsidiary Kissan Support Services (Pvt) Ltd as Coach/Manager of ZTBL Cricket Team on a monthly salary of Rs100,000.

However, two years later, the bank’s management changed Qadir’s designation to that of bowling coach.  In a rejoinder, Qadir wrote a complaint to the ZTBL chairman, in which he asked for the release of pending salaries and complained of his abrupt change of designation.

“I would like to express my disappointment/dissatisfaction over the decision taken by the Board of Directors to shift/change my portfolio as bowling coach, informed through a letter issued on December 11, 2010, by Masood Anwar, sports head,” wrote Qadir. He said that he completed his probation satisfactorily despite having his engagement just before the start of first-class domestic cricket season 2010-11. Qadir said that he, in his capacity as the cricket coach, managed available talent to the best of his abilities.

“A letter was written to Masood Anwar on February 21, 2011, to inquire about the actual reasons for this sudden change, so far failed to receive any reply. My salary has been stopped without any reason,” wrote Qadir while asking the ZTBL chairman for immediate release of his pending salaries.

Qadir was subsequently hounded by certain officials within the ZTBL such as sports head Masood Anwar, however, that did not prevent Qadir from pleading his case for the release of his outstanding salaries.

In 2015 Qadir met then chairman of ZTBL, Syed Talat Mehmood, who assured Qadir that his pending dues would be cleared and directed him to rejoin the bank as adviser/consultant ZTBL sports head coach on a salary of Rs250,000 per month.

The appointment letter issued to Qadir by ZTBL in relation to his rejoining the institution stipulated a salary of Rs175,000 per month. However, due to his long association and rapport with former chairman Talat Mehmood, Qadir rejoined ZTBL without objection.

He recruited new talent and took ZTBL team to the finals in his first year and the team won successive Patrons Trophy Grade-II finals during his tenure in 2017 and 2018.

It took Qadir only three years to upgrade ZTBL team to Grade-One in 2018. However, Qadir’s contract expired after the second match of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Grade-One. Mehmood promised Qadir the renewal of his contract along with an increased salary of Rs4,750,000 per month and additional privileges such as the provision of a 1,300cc car and fuel. Later, a proposal was also delivered to Qadir who could not sign it because of the ongoing season.

Meanwhile, Mehmood’s contract was terminated by the PTI government and Acting President Shaikh Amanullah withdrew the offer letter and issued a new offer with a downgraded salary of Rs300,000 and without the perks offered in the earlier agreement.

The offer letter included certain conditions that were unacceptable for the cricketing maestro which included him being made subordinate to senior manger security & sports, zonal office Lahore, who was tasked to look after sports despite Qadir’s own designation being equivalent to that of a general manager’s.

Salman Qadir, the son of late Abdul Qadir, confirmed to Pakistan Today that his father was under duress due to non-payment of his salaries since January 2019.

Meanwhile, ZTBL management continues ‘operation clean-up’ even after the sad and sudden demise of Abdul Qadir, terminating around 17 cricket players considered close to the spin master. In the campaign, the management first changed their designations from players to on desk jobs and later terminated their contracts despite the fact that their contracts were still valid for another two years.