LAHORE: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is also patron of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), on Monday dissolved the PCB governing council and appointed an 8-member ad-hoc committee to run the affairs of sport. The Prime Minister also directed the committee to pick a PCB chairman from among its eight members and it chose Najam Sethi, who acted as interim chairman while Zaka Ashraf was suspended. Following an order from the Prime Minister, Ashraf has been removed as PCB chief as Sethi has once again taken over as Pakistan cricket boss. The new committee also includes former Test players Zaheer Abbas and Iqbal Qasim and former PCB chief Shaharyar Khan.
The PCB chairmanship has been a topic of controversy ever since the board’s inception in 1948, with the ruling political party of the day generally giving the post to one of its supporters. Ashraf was reinstated as the PCB chairman last month by the Islamabad High Court after filing an appeal against his dismissal by a single bench of the same court in May last year. The single bench had declared the election process during which Ashraf was elected last year as malafide and polluted and dismissed him, following which the government appointed Sethi as acting chairman. But Sethi’s tenure hit a snag after another court ruling curtailed his powers.
“I am still the chairman of the board and this notification has no bearing on my position,” a defiant Ashraf told media. “This decision will only further weaken Pakistan’s position in international cricket and I will decide on what legal recourse to take soon,” he said. The first meeting of the ad-hoc committee been convened on Tuesday (today) at Gaddafi Stadium Lahore which will be presided over by Sethi. The Ministry of Inter-Provincial Co-ordination (IPC) had challenged the verdict of the Islamabad High Court, which re-instated Ashraf as chairman. The Supreme Court had accepted the petition but had refrained from taking the case ahead, suggesting that the government exercise its authority to initiate changes within the PCB. On January 31, the government withdrew its petition against Ashraf’s return as chairman from the Supreme Court.
The reasons for Ashraf’s removal are known to all and sundry. The ruling government is not interested in a person running Pakistan cricket who was appointed by the previous government. But a committee member told media yesterday that Ashraf was removed because his failure to give Pakistan a strong voice at a crucial International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting in Singapore on Saturday. The world body approved a controversial revamp at the meeting, which gave major powers and revenues to the so-called ‘Big Three’ of world cricket – India, Australia and England. “The charges include that Ashraf left Pakistan isolated in world cricket with his mishandling of the big three issue and there were also financial mismanagement and appointments in his tenure.” Pakistan and Sri Lanka abstained from voting on Saturday when the International Cricket Council (ICC) board passed structural and financial reforms to effective place India, England and Australia in charge of the game.
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