Pakistan news June 13, 2013

Islamabad High Court upholds Zaka Ashraf suspension

The Islamabad High Court has upheld the suspension of Zaka Ashraf and ordered the Pakistan inter-provincial coordination committee to name an interim PCB chairman to represent the board in the ICC annual conference in London later this month. The next hearing on the matter will be on June 19.

The court, at its initial hearing last month, suspended Ashraf from "exercising his power within his incumbency" due to what it called the "dubious" and "polluted" process to elect him. It was responding to a petition filed by a former official of the Rawalpindi Cricket Association against the Pakistan board's elections that were held in May, through which Ashraf was elected to a four-year term as chairman.

The PCB lawyer argued against the suspension order, saying that Ashraf needed to represent the PCB at the ICC annual conference, but the court turned down the request. "In the peculiar circumstances, the inter-provincial coordination committee is directed to appoint some acting chairman [of the] PCB, fully qualified to be appointed as chairman, till final disposal of instant writ petition, with the authority to attend forthcoming meeting of the ICC so Pakistan may be represented in the meeting," the judge said.

However, bringing in an interim chairman will not be a straightforward matter. The PCB, being an autonomous body, isn't regulated by the government and is directly linked to the president of Pakistan, the patron of the board.

The PCB constitution states that, "(i) during the absence of chairman for the period of more than 45 days or in the event the chairman tender his resignation or in case of his death or in the event of the office of the chairman falling vacant for any other reason, the board of governors may elect and appoint an acting chairman from amongst its members, who may only have limited powers during the absence or till the appointment of the chairman; (ii) the chairman during his leave from office or otherwise, may delegate any of his power, in writing to any other member of the board of governors or the chief operating officer."

Given the court's order, there is no procedure defined in the board's constitution to appoint a chairman through the inter-provincial coordination committee.

Ashraf was elected in the first week of May - the first election of a PCB chairman - under the new board constitution that replaced the system of appointing the chairman by the patron. The process was conducted without any prior announcement, the PCB revealing Ashraf's appointment through a press release, and Ashraf's election was challenged in three different courts in the country.

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