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Zaka Ashraf takes a step closer to becoming PCB chairman

Former PCB chairman appointed to board of governors by Pakistan's Prime Minister

Zaka Ashraf at a press conference, Lahore, April 18, 2012

Zaka Ashraf is likely to head the PCB once again  •  AFP

Former PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf has taken a step closer to regaining the post once again after he, along with Supreme Court lawyer Mustafa Ramday, was nominated by the country's Prime Minister to join the PCB's board of governors.
The development occurred the day after Najam Sethi, who is heading the interim management committee that runs the PCB until June 21, withdrew from the running to become the board chairman.
Traditionally in Pakistan cricket, it is the Prime Minister's appointment to the PCB board of governors who usually becomes the board chairman for a three-year term, and Ashraf is the overwhelming favourite to be elected, with the election process usually a formality.
While announcing his withdrawal on Twitter, Sethi had said: "I don't want to be a bone of contention between Asif Zardari and Shehbaz Sharif. Such instability and uncertainty is not good for PCB. Under the circumstances I am not a candidate for Chairmanship of PCB. Good luck to all stakeholders."
Sethi's tweet was referencing the political horse-trading over the chairman's seat. Shehbaz Sharif is the current Prime Minister of Pakistan, and also the PCB patron. Asif Ali Zardari, a former Pakistan president with the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), is a prominent coalition partner in the current government, and Ashraf is thought to be his party's man for the post.
Ordinarily, the PCB chairman would be a pick of Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) party. But over the last couple of weeks, the PPP has insisted that as they are the ones in charge of Pakistan sports, through the ministry for inter-provincial coordination (IPC), it maintained the right to nominate a candidate of their choosing.
Ashraf's return after a period of nine years ends - for now at least - a repeat of the tussles that had marked the tug of war between him and Sethi between 2013 and 2014. The pair were involved in a protracted legal battle for the chairmanship at the time, with the position switching hands several times. That issue was seemingly settled when former prime minister Nawaz Sharif - Shehbaz's elder brother - finally ousted Ashraf and brought in Sethi. But after days of intense mediation between both parties, Sethi was compelled to make way for Ashraf.
Sethi has been running the PCB on an interim basis since Ramiz Raja was removed as chairman, and the board's 2019 constitution was scrapped last December. Sethi's committee was initially given 120 days to bring back the 2014 constitution under which the PCB was run, and also reinstate the regional and department structure in domestic cricket. The committee was also given a mandate to form a board of governors and elect a chairman.
That meant the dismissal of the six-team provincial model for domestic cricket which was formed with the backing of former premier Imran Khan. The domestic structure will now be based on 16 regions, marked by a return of departments. Among them, four regions and four departments are set to be given a board seat at the PCB for a term of three years.
The 2014 constitution also requires the PCB to form a board of governors comprising ten members: four out of the 16 regional representatives, four representatives of services organisations, and two members directly nominated by the PCB patron.
Over the last six months, Sethi's management committee has also overseen the hiring of a predominantly overseas coaching staff for Pakistan, with former head coach Mickey Arthur appointed part-time director of cricket.
One of the thornier issues that occupied Sethi during his short stint was Pakistan's hosting of the Asia Cup and its link to Pakistan's potential participation in the World Cup, scheduled to be held in India in October-November this year. Three days back, Sethi was talking about Pakistan's participation at the event being subject to the approval of the Pakistan government. That will be one of the more pressing issues for Sethi's successor to deal with.