Rehan Butt with Argentine liasion officer. (Image courtesy: www.dawn.com)
Pakistan's parliament has fined members of it national hockey team rupees 200,000 ($2,350) after photos surfaced of them hugging a female liaison officer at the Champions Challenge tournament in Argentina last month.
Player Rehan Butt was fined rupees 100,000 ($1,175) while coach Shahid Ali Khan and manager Asif Bajwa have to pay rupees 50,000 ($588) each.
Pakistan team members took pictures with the liaison officer during the official players' night at the end of the tournament. The dinner was also attended by other participating teams and their officials. Pakistan lost the final to New Zealand, costing them a place in the Champions Trophy.
"It is not our culture to hug a lady," said Jamshed Dasti, chairman of Pakistan's lower house standing committee on sports. "The players are ambassadors of their country and they should remember this well."
Coach Khan said that the Pakistan Hockey Federation had already taken a serious note of the pictures which were even uploaded on the popular website www.youtube.com.
"The PHF has warned all the team players and officials to be careful in future," Khan said.
"It was an official players' dinner and the lady requested us to have photos with her.
"But I agree with the committee members that some pictures were objectionable and it should have been avoided."
Butt, who is due to compete in the World Cup in India next month, escaped a heavier punishment, as Dasti proposed to ban the forward from the national team.
"He is our key player for the World Cup and it would deal us a severe blow if you ban him," pleaded Irfan Khokhar, chief coordinator of the PHF.
One of the female members of the committee Nasim Akhtar Chaudhry was furious after seeing the pictures.
"We live in an Islamic country," she said.
"We have our own traditions, our own culture which should be portrayed abroad.
"We didn't shake hands with males when our women parliamentary delegation visited the US last year and here they are giving a hug to a lady," she said.
Dasti warned Khan not to get involved in such activities in future.
"If I would have to take the decision you all could have ended up in a lock up after the team returned home," he said. "Don't get yourselves involved in such parties in future tournaments abroad." Dasti instructed director general of the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Amir Hamza Gilani to ensure the fine is paid, with receipts provided to the committee.