Najam Sethi hits out at Islamabad High Court in editorial
Najam Sethi, the suspended PCB chairman, has attributed the Pakistan board's ongoing existential crisis to "extraordinary judicial intervention". He wrote an op-ed in the Friday Times, the weekly newspaper of which he is editor-in-chief, questioning the Islamabad High Court's (IHC) rulings by which two chairmen have been suspended in past five months, leaving the board's administration in a state of turmoil.
The PCB currently is without a chairman, and this has left it in "disarray" and "losing billions", Sethi wrote. "An extraordinary judicial intervention in the affairs of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has thrown everything and everyone into confusion, disarray and gridlock," Sethi wrote in his article headlined "This is not cricket". "Worse, it is threatening to post huge financial, administrative and sporting losses on the only tax-paying national sport institution in the country.
"The PCB is incurring financial losses of billions by delaying urgent financial, administrative and sporting decisions. The matter needs to be brought to a fair, just and constitutional closure as early as possible by the honourable judges in the national interest."
Sethi was appointed interim chairman of the PCB in June 2013 - for a 90-day period - after the IHC suspended former PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf over questions about the legality of the elections conducted to appoint him. In July, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui set a deadline of October 18 for the PCB to hold fresh elections for the chairman. Sethi failed to hold those elections and instead, on October 15 just before the deadline, the prime minister of Pakistan - the new patron of the PCB according to the court - Nawaz Sharif, dissolved the governing board of the PCB, and formed a five-member IMC, headed by Sethi, to administer cricket. Then, on October 28, Justice Siddiqui suspended Sethi from his role as IMC head for not complying with the earlier legal order to elect a permanent PCB chairman by October 18.
In his order that directed the board to organise fresh elections, Justice Siddiqui had also ordered a comprehensive makeover of the PCB. The 30-page judgement, asked for changes in the structure of the PCB, questioned the appointment of the selection committee, as well as the board's financial and recruitment affairs. According to his order, a candidate competing for the post of chairman had to be an ex-first-class cricketer, a graduate.
Traditionally in Pakistan Cricket, the nomination of the chairman has come from the president of Pakistan, and the post has rarely been filled by an ex-cricketer. Sethi objected to this direction of the court in his article. "Nowhere in the cricketing world is the head of any board a first-class or Test cricketer elected directly by a general body," he wrote. "The reason for this is that the basic functions of cricket boards are financial and managerial, with only sporting activities guided by committees headed by ex-sportsmen."
The fact that Sethi has written a piece about it in his position as editor of the weekly is likely to lead to more raised eyebrows of those who worry about the potential conflicts of interest in Sethi being a chairman and prominent media personality. Already questions have been asked, especially after the PCB awarded broadcast rights of Pakistan's series with Sri Lanka in the UAE later this year to Geo Super, a sports channel owned by the same media group with which Sethi doubles as a popular political talk show host.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here