Pakistan news October 29, 2013

Sethi to continue as ad-hoc chairman

The Islamabad High Court has allowed Najam Sethi to continue as head of the PCB's Interim Management Committee until the disposal of an appeal it is hearing. The appeal was filed by the PCB against the judgment passed by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, of the same court, which had called for fresh elections for the PCB chairman.

The next hearing is scheduled for November 4.

The hearing of the appeal came minutes after another judge of the High Court suspended Sethi on the grounds that he had not complied with its order to hold fresh elections by October 18. However, the suspension will not come into effect because the single-judge bench that passed the order has been superseded by the two-judge bench - of Justice Riaz Ahmad Khan and Justice Noor-ul-Haq Qureshi - hearing the appeal.

In its appeal, the PCB argued that the judgment had impacted its daily functioning and so it was not feasible to carry out the election for the chairman's post.

The arguments lasted more than 90 minutes, during which the PCB's current status was called a "mess" several times. The board's lawyers insisted that Siddiqui's order be reviewed while a lawyer for the suspended chairman, Zaka Ashraf, pleaded for his client to resume his role, since he was elected for a four-year term this May. However, the judge turned down both arguments.

After a lengthy hearing, the bench directed all the respondents to return on Monday for their concluding arguments before the court reaches a verdict.

Justice Siddiqui's verdict asked for drastic changes in the structure of the PCB, and questioned the appointment of the selection committee, as well as its financial and recruitment affairs. The judge ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan to carry out the election of the PCB chairman, directed the federal government to appoint a District Management Group (DMG) officer as the PCB secretary, and also reduced the powers of the president of Pakistan - also the patron of the PCB.

Sethi was appointed as interim chairman of the PCB in June 2013 - for a 90-day period - after the Islamabad High Court suspended former PCB chairman Ashraf due to questions over the legality of PCB elections. In July, the Islamabad High Court set a deadline of October 18 for the PCB to hold fresh elections.

On October 15, the prime minister of Pakistan and new patron of the PCB, Nawaz Sharif, dissolved the governing board of the PCB, and formed a five-member IMC to administer cricket. Sethi‚ former chairman Shahryar Khan, former players Zaheer Abbas and Haroon Rasheed and former team manager Naved Cheema were appointed to the committee.

The IMC had been directed by Sharif to elect one of its members as chairman, and the committee unanimously chose Sethi, who had been acting as caretaker chairman since June. The IMC wanted to hold off elections to allow time for various local cricket associations to resolve outstanding legal issues but Justice Siddiqui ordered the Election Commission to press ahead with the poll.

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