Pakistan cricket May 9, 2008

Senator accuses Ashraf of skipping meeting

Nasim Ashraf, the PCB chairman, has been accused of 'deliberately avoiding' a meeting in Islamabad © AFP

Senator Enver Baig, a member of the Standing Committee on Sports that is currently probing the bank accounts of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has accused its chairman Nasim Ashraf of 'deliberately avoiding' a meeting with the committee in Islamabad on Thursday.

"He [Ashraf] was supposed to appear before the committee and answer important questions but he conveniently proceeded to Dubai to avoid us," Baig told The News.

"The worst part is that we were given a false excuse for his absence as a top PCB official told us that Ashraf had gone to Dubai to meet ICC president Ray Mali. But I've confirmed with the ICC headquarters in Dubai that no such meeting took place. In fact Mali had left Dubai two days ago for South Africa," said Baig, who has been a major critic of the PCB top brass in recent years.

Baig added that Shafqat Naghmi, the PCB's chief operating officer, told the committee during an "on-camera" session that Ashraf had to rush to Dubai to meet with Mali and discuss some important issues related to the ICC Champions Trophy which Pakistan are to host this September. "He [Naghmi] told us that Ashraf had to leave in a hurry because Mali had told him that he was in Dubai just for a day on Thursday."

Baig said that it all turned out to be a "pack of lies". "I believe that Ashraf flew off to Dubai to avoid the committee that was supposed to ask him some probing questions." Baig also said that he and some Senators had requisitioned another meeting next month to discuss the PCB's finances and have asked the Senate committee to make Ashraf's presence mandatory.

The committee, according to Baig, found out an "astonishing" fact from the details of the PCB bank accounts provided by the board that the it spent Rs 1.2 billion (US$17,788,340) during a short span of the last six months. "We were really surprised because that means that the PCB has been spending 12 crore a month. We've asked them to provide details and now they are supposed to submit balance sheets within the next three weeks."