LAHORE: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday named a former Supreme Court Judge, Justice (r) Muhammad Sair Ali, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) acting chairman as well as election commissioner to conduct the elections of the PCB chief. Sharif, who is also patron of the PCB, has directed Sair to ensure that elections are held within 30 days as the board continues to search for a stable leadership. “Justice Sair is appointed election commissioner with immediate effect as per requirements laid down in the new PCB constitution and will hold elections of PCB chairman within the next 30 days,” a statement from the Ministry of Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC), which oversees Pakistan sports, said. Soft-spoken Sair was one of the several judges who refused to provide legal cover for former military ruler Pervez Musharraf’s 2007 imposition of emergency rule. With appointing Sair, the Prime Minister hopes to draw a line under a long-running crisis.
The post of chairman in the PCB has seen a game of musical chairs played between rivals Zaka Ashraf and Najam Sethi three times each since May last year, leading to widespread ridicule at home and abroad. The Islamabad High Court first suspended Ashraf over ‘dubious’ elections. Sharif appointed Sethi, a journalist and former newspaper editor, to the post after he was elected Prime Minister last year. Ashraf and Sethi have alternately been re-appointed and sacked from the post several times over the past year by the courts of law. Last month, Sethi was removed and reinstated in the space of two days by the Supreme Court. But the Supreme Court after hearing several cricket related petitions including one challenging the reinstatement of Ashraf as chairman by the Islamabad High Court ruled that a caretaker chairman will hold elections for the top post under the new constitution. It also declared the decision of the Islamabad High Court to reinstate Ashraf as null and void. Interestingly, Sethi during the hearing gave in writing to the Supreme Court that he would not be contesting the PCB chairman’s elections
The leadership crisis had raised the prospect of Pakistan being suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC). Two years ago the ICC had warned its member countries to chose their heads in a democratic manner without any government influence but since then they backed down after protests from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Sethi and Shaharyar Khan have been nominated to the Board of Governors by Sharif. The 10-member BOG also includes four representatives each of the regions and departments affiliated with the board. As the chairman will be elected from among those in the Board of Governors, both nominees are seen as contenders in the election. Under the PCB’s recently reformed constitution, the chairman will be elected for a three-year tenure but can be voted out by the Board of Governors. Former chairman and diplomat Shaharyar, who held the post from 2003 to 2006, is seen as a favourite in the election.
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