Pakistan news May 28, 2013

High Court suspends Ashraf as PCB chairman

The Islamabad High Court has ordered the suspension of Zaka Ashraf, the head of Pakistan's cricket board, over what it called the "dubious" and "polluted" process to elect him.

Ashraf, the PCB chairman, was ordered to "refrain from exercising his power within his incumbency" till the court's next hearing on June 13.

The court was responding to a petition filed by a former Rawalpindi Cricket Association official against the Pakistan board's elections that were held earlier this month - through which Ashraf was elected to a four-year term as chairman.

"The petitioner has a good arguable case in his favour, as entire process of election of PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf appeared to be motivated and polluted," Justice Shaukat Siddiqui said.

PCB's legal representative Tafuzul Rizvi in response told ESPNcricinfo that the board will assist the court during the next hearing. "We will present the facts before the court and after that any decision will be followed in letter and spirit," Rizvi said.

The board of governors meeting and the AGM that was scheduled to take place in Karachi on May 28 and 29 has been postponed in wake of the court's decision. The board however will continue to function without a chairman in the interim.

In more bad news for the PCB, five top regional associations - Lahore, Karachi, Multan, Faisalabad and Sialkot - have also revolted against Ashraf, alleging a fallacious electoral process. The five associations, presently dismissed by the PCB, constituted an interim committee to run the city associations.

There are two more petitions relating to the election pending against the PCB - one in the Lahore High Court, and the other in the Sindh High Court that was filed by former wicketkeeper Rashid Latif. The petition in the Sindh High Court is scheduled to come up for hearing on Wednesday.

Ashraf was elected in the first week of May, under the new PCB constitution that replaced the system of appointing the PCB chairman by the patron of the board, the president of Pakistan. It was the first election of a PCB chairman.

He was one of the two candidates - the other being former Lahore Stock Exchange chairman Aftab Ahmad Khan - recommended by the patron and then interviewed by the nomination committee. The committee then unanimously recommended Ashraf for the chairman's post, before the board of governors unanimously endorsed him.

As per the new constitution, the board of governors was restructured to include ten members - five regional representatives on the basis of rotation and five representatives of service organisations and departments - with voting rights. Of the ten, PCB was able to appoint nine, all of whom voted in favour of Ashraf's nomination. However, there was no representation from Punjab, Pakistan's largest province with 60% of country's population, while two new regions without any first-class team - Larkana and Dera Murad Jamali - were drafted in to the board.

The process was conducted without any prior announcement, the PCB revealing the appointment through a press release.

The PCB's new constitution was produced as a result of the 2011 ICC directive, which required that its member boards become autonomous and free of interference from governments by June 2013. Removal of government interference had also been one of the Woolf report recommendations approved by the ICC. However, in November 2012, the ICC said it was reviewing its stance against government involvement in the administration of cricket.

Ashraf has been the PCB's chairman since 2011, previously working under the old constitution, under which he was appointed for an indefinite period by the patron, President Asif Ali Zardari.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here