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Zaka Ashraf out, Najam Sethi returns as PCB chairman

Umar Farooq

February 10, 2014

Comments: 94 | Text size: A | A

Zaka Ashraf talks to reporters in Lahore on Friday, February 1, 2014
Zaka Ashraf's future in the PCB appears to have ended © Associated Press
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The turmoil within the top management of the PCB took two new, and yet familiar, twists on Monday with the Patron of the Board, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, dismissing the chairman Zaka Ashraf once again and dissolving the board of governors. Sharif directed a management committee to pick a PCB chairman from among its eight members and it chose Najam Sethi, who acted as interim chairman while Ashraf was suspended.

The management committee included Shahriyar Khan (former PCB chairman), Najam Sethi (former interim PCB chairman), Zaheer Abbas (former Pakistan captain), Naveed Akram Cheema (chief secretary, Punjab), Shakeel Sheikh (former member of PCB board of governors), Yousaf Naseem Khokhar (former member of PCB board of governors), Iqbal Qasim (former cricketer), Ijaz Chaudary (IPC secretary). It will meet for the first time on February 11.

The mandate given by the prime minister to the committee is to form a new PCB constitution and restore stability to cricket administration in Pakistan. The committee said they will let the decisions made by Ashraf stand only if they are legitimate, and will scrap the ones that are not.

How the Patron dismissed Zaka Ashraf

  • According to the old constitution, the Patron could only supersede the PCB in case of "grave financial irregularities". That clause was amended to be less specific and include more general mismanagement.
  • Paragraph 41 (before amendment): The patron, in the presence of sufficient evidence and being satisfied that grave financial irregularities exists in the Board and that the Board is dysfunctional, may by order in writing reasons, supersede the Board and appoint an interim committee consisting of an administrator and as many members as deemed necessary for carrying out the functions of the Board …
  • Paragraph 41 (after amendment): "When the patron is of the opinion that the Board is unable to perform its function properly in accordance with this constitution he may; by order in writing, supersede the board and constitute a management committee comprising up to elven members, for performance of the functions of the board; Provided that upon an order of suspension the board of governance shall stand dissolved and chairman shall stand removed."

Ashraf was critical of the decsion. "The decision clearly shows that there is government interference (in the PCB)," he said. "It's an undemocratic decision by a democratic government."

It was the second time that Ashraf had been removed as PCB chairman in the last eight months. Ashraf had been suspended in May 2013 by the Islamabad High Court after it ruled he had been elected via a "dubious" and "polluted" process. However, after a complicated legal process, he was reinstated by the same court on January 15 this year.

The Ministry of Inter-Provincial Co-ordination (IPC) had challenged the verdict of the Islamabad High Court, which re-instated Ashraf as chairman. The Supreme Court had accepted the petition but had refrained from taking the case ahead, suggesting that the government exercise its authority to initiate changes within the PCB. On January 31, the government withdrew its petition against Ashraf's return as chairman from the Supreme Court.

" … There are serious issues in the management of PCB, repugnant to the aim and object of PCB and that there is an immediate and emergent need to take necessary measures to improve the management of PCB as well as to streamline the game of cricket at all levels in Pakistan," an IPC ministry statement said. "Now therefore, under the power conferred upon the Patron under para graphs 41 of the PCB constitution as amended, the Prime Minister of Pakistan being Patron PCB has been pleased to constitute the following management committee to performance of the function with immediate effects …

"The above committee shall elect one of its member as chairman, who shall be the Chairman PCB. It shall supersede the Board of Governers, including the Chairman PCB, who shall cease to exit/hold office with immediate effect."

In May last year, Ashraf became the first elected PCB chairman for a period of four years under a new constitution. He was then suspended a few weeks later following questions over the legality of his appointment. Under the amended constitution the Patron of the PCB could remove the chairman only on the basis of financial irregularities. The constitution did not allow no-confidence motions to be raised against the PCB chairman.

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, 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 until the court reinstated Ashraf on January 15.

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

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Posted by kamilkhuwaja on (February 11, 2014, 16:59 GMT)

Again we're in a situation where Nawaz Shareef has become a pro-Indian cause he didn't like Ashraf's stand against "Big Three". Considering that, he appointed Najam Sethi who himself doesn't know a word about cricket plus he is known as pro-Indian too. If you see Sethi's interviews, you would realize what does he think about Pakistan!!! Stupid people!!

Posted by getsetgopk on (February 11, 2014, 16:11 GMT)

These politicians, they'll never learn a thing for as long as they are alive. Sharif brothers won the elections which means that they own everything in Pakistan, cricket is no exception. They will not have anyone other than a man of their own party, what happens to Pak cricket is not an ISSUE to them. Whats happening in the cricketing world, they dont care, they won the elections and they deserve their own man to run things. The patron, the leader of the country can do such a senseless thing? Has he got no shame left? OBVIOUSLY not. By the way, the decision to stand against the big three was spot on, Pak do not need to be part of any circus, it has got plenty of other issues. Play less cricket but play it hard and fair in its true spirit. Hope zaka returns to Pak cricket, all I can hope for.

Posted by   on (February 11, 2014, 15:43 GMT)

Well played Mr Nawaz Sharif PCB pattern in chief, who doesn't have time to meet Mr zaka on this important BIG 3 issue and take apart himself from this issue because if they meet then decision have to take by Mr Sharif which he never wants against India neither he can go against the people of Pakistan sentiments . So just after BIG 3 issue the zaka dismiss by Nawaz sharif.

Posted by MianNasir on (February 11, 2014, 15:37 GMT)

This instability and indifferent decision of top level management of Pakistan cricket is translated in the performance of Pakistan cricket team in the field. That's why they are an unpredictable side. No continuity any where, whole system is being run on day to day basis. Well folks, we only can pray for better future of Pakistan cricket and just love to see them competing with top teams of the world.

Posted by Zainnajam on (February 11, 2014, 14:58 GMT)

Well, This is obvious stuff and i dont think any one does regret this new change, only Najam Sethi will have to certainly Prove he is much better and more Qualified than the Old school Zaka Ashraf

Posted by   on (February 11, 2014, 12:45 GMT)

Najam Sethi has now been reinstated with full authority and I think he will be be able to do better than Zaka Ahraf. Najam Sethi should first remove the old team that handled PCB case against BIG 3 so badly and then make revolutionary steps to improve Pakistan's current domestic structure so that once again it starts producing cricketing stars.

Posted by   on (February 11, 2014, 9:32 GMT)

I dont think it makes any difference to big3 issue. That is done and dusted. Pak didnt vote for it nor against it. and it is approved by majority votes so more likely both SLC and PCB will now join in . They have got no option left. Zaka would have done the same. Otherwise they would have voted against it.

In my opinion, its not about that as PCB's stance was well known for 3 weeks so if govt wanted anyother decision then they would have done something earlier. Its just old politics and power tussle. and it was coming ever since he was reinstated by court last month.

the best they can do is to hold elections with in 4 months. Last time court said to do it in 90 days but they didnt. and prolonged their own tenure.

If they hold elections with all regions participating then it will be good for pak.

Posted by M.Faheem on (February 11, 2014, 9:30 GMT)

To all my fellow Pakistanis, please dont blame anyone for our problems, we are the ones responsible for that. BCCI is winning the battle more due to our faults and than due to its own fortunes. We promised Sri Lankan team Presidential-level security in 2009 but what we actually did is infront of all. Now we should not expect anyone to take that risk. This time, when a new government wished to bless someone for PCB's chairmanship, it did not even bothered to realize that an important change phase was going on in ICC. It reflects very unfortunate state of our affairs.

Posted by   on (February 11, 2014, 9:26 GMT)

Instead of following what SA and BD did, PCB went playing to the gallery. Instead of negotiating and bargaining more cricket for his country Ashraf went ballistic.. He forgot the precarious situation of Pakistani cricket. Even Rameez Raja was critical of how Ashraf dealt with ICC recently.

Posted by ziggy500 on (February 11, 2014, 9:25 GMT)

Im an aussie fan, but i have immense respect for zaka ashraf. he stood up as one of the a fighter to the attempted 3 member cabal and under him, pk's performances have been improving. i am an outsider with little knowledge though, and i do realise he has made questionable decisions, but they pale in comparison to some decisions made by dodgy boards of a few other countries (im talking about you, BCCI). the government has sacked a man who was doing a good enough job and jeapordised the future of pakistan cricket which is a shame, because i loved watching them play as a kid, and still do with that SL test chase they completed a fortnight ago.

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