Board not to pursue defamation suit May 5, 2008

PCB softens stance on Shoaib

Shoaib Akhtar has been given some breathing space after the PCB decided not to pursue its defamation suit © AFP

In a further softening of its stance on Shoaib Akhtar, the Pakistan board will no longer pursue the defamation lawsuit following a reconciliation of sorts between Nasim Ashraf, the board chairman, and Shoaib at the house of a top political official last night in Islamabad.

The dinner meeting was held at the residence of Rehman Malik, a key advisor to the prime minister in the current government on interior affairs, in which Shoaib apologised to Ashraf. The meeting reportedly came at the request of Malik, who called Ashraf and told him Shoaib was ready to apologise to him personally and that the matter should be resolved for the good of Pakistan cricket. Last week Shoaib had also apologised publicly to the chairman and the board.

"He has publicly and personally apologised, so I forgive him," Ashraf told Cricinfo. "My honour has been vindicated and now the defamation lawsuit will not be pursued."

Though the lawsuit has been dropped, the five-year ban - currently suspended - and the appeals process against it, will remain in place. The workings of the Appellate Tribunal remain outside the jurisdiction of the board chairman and the appeals hearing will resume as normal on June 4.

The PCB had, on Friday, filed the Rs 22 crore (approx US$3.37 million) lawsuit against Shoaib for comments he had made against the PCB chairman immediately after the imposition of his five-year ban. Shoaib had alleged on a TV show that Ashraf had demanded a share of his salary from the IPL. He also alleged that Ashraf had tried to extort money from other Pakistan cricketers as well.

The decision is further good news for Shoaib, following yesterday's decision to suspend the ban on him to allow him to play in the Indian Premier League.

Not surprisingly, speculation that the ban is likely to be overturned eventually has already begun, though privately, PCB officials are believed to be adamant that Shoaib will not play for Pakistan again.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo