Pakistan news January 15, 2014

Zaka Ashraf reinstated as PCB chairman

ESPNcricinfo staff

Zaka Ashraf has been reinstated as PCB chairman by the Islamabad High Court (IHC), following a long-winded and complicated legal process. This is a remarkable turnaround of fortunes for Ashraf, who had been suspended from the post in May 2013 by the same court, after it ruled he was elected via a "dubious" and "polluted" process.

Speaking to the media in Lahore, Ashraf welcomed the High Court ruling.

"I respected court orders before and I respect it now, and will continue to work for the betterment of cricket in Pakistan," he said. "Cricket is a non-political game and it is supported by millions in Pakistan. This legal process has hurt Pakistan cricket badly."

Details of the court order are yet to be released, though. It would seem, however, that Ashraf has been reinstated on the interpretation that the original appeal of Nadeem Suddle (who first contested Ashraf's election) has been dismissed. This will only be confirmed on Thursday morning, when the full judgment is released.

Ashraf was elected chairman in May, under a new constitution, in which the role of the patron of the board - at that point the president of Pakistan - had been changed. Where before the patron simply appointed a chairman for however long a term he chose, under the new constitution, the patron would recommend two candidates for the post, who would then be interviewed by a nomination committee. The nomination would then have to be approved by a restructured board of governors.

In Ashraf's case, the problem with election was at two levels. One, it was done secretively and in a hurry, ahead of the country's general elections in which the party Ashraf derived his power from - the Pakistan People's Party - was eventually voted out. Two, the composition of the board of governors was questionable, with no representation on it of the entire province of Punjab, Pakistan's most populous and arguably its most dominant in terms of cricket players.

Subsequently, Najam Sethi was appointed as interim chairman in June by the prime minister - the new patron of the board - Nawaz Sharif. However, Sethi was not appointed as per the specifications of the IHC, and so in July the court overturned all the major decisions taken by him and restricted his powers to the overseeing of the day-to-day administration of the board. At that point, the court also ordered fresh elections by October 18.

However, with it being evident the elections would not take place by the stipulated deadline, the board's patron, Sharif, dissolved the PCB's governing board on October 15 and created an interim management committee (IMC), the members of which unanimously chose Sethi as its head. The PCB had been run by the IMC till date.

Asked whether the PCB would appeal the judgment, Sethi said it wasn't up to him to make that decision.

"This is a question that you must ask IPC and government of Pakistan," he said. "I was not, nor am I now, a petitioner or appelant. I was appointed by the PM. He has to decide [the] course of action."