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News

PCB chief Zaka Ashraf gets three-month extension

The current interim management committee running the board, headed by Ashraf, was due to end on November 5

Zaka Ashraf at a press conference  •  AFP

Zaka Ashraf at a press conference  •  AFP

Zaka Ashraf's tenure as the head of the PCB is set to continue for three months, as confirmed by a government notification on Saturday evening. The notification was confirmation given by the patron of the board and current interim prime minister of Pakistan Anwar ul Haq Kakar in a TV interview on Friday. Kakar had, however, indicated an extension till the end of the ongoing World Cup.
The notification, issued by the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC), said it had "approved extension of three months in tenure period of present Management Committee w.e.f 5th November, 2023." As has been the mandate all along, the IPC said the committee should perform the primary task of finalising the Board of Governors (BoG) and conduction the chairman elections at the earliest. It also said the committee would not be granted another extension beyond February 2024, which is around the time Pakistan will hold general elections. The committee has also been prohibited from making policy decisions or any high-level appointments.
The current interim management committee running the board was due to end on November 5. The future of the administration had been under intense scrutiny and the subject of considerable speculation in recent days after a series of high-profile missteps, including a press release which appeared to shift the blame on captain Babar Azam and selector Inzamam-ul-Haq (who has since resigned) and a controversy around a leaked Whatsapp conversation between Babar and a senior PCB official.
Ashraf's leadership has been criticised by members of the management committee including Zulfiqar Malik and Mustafa Ramday for its decision-making and lack of movement over conducting board elections, which was the mandate it came in with in July. Malik sent an email to Ashraf, other members of the committee as well as the prime minister in October, laying out his criticism of PCB operations. In a separate communication, Ramday has also outlined his concerns with the way the board has been run.
The options for the patron coming into this weekend were to either appoint a new committee or give an extension to the existing one over the weekend and the latter option has been chosen.
"At this time, you know there is a tournament going on," Kakar told Dawn News TV in an interview. "We'll look after this tournament what needs doing, what doesn't need doing. At this moment, I don't think we are going to make a big decision. The reason for that is that at times you have to work according to the doctrine of necessity. Once we are past the World Cup, then we'll see."
As prime minister, albeit interim, Kakar is also a patron of the PCB and in charge of the appointment of the board head. The doctrine of necessity that Kakar cited is remembered in Pakistan, infamously, as a judgment in 1954 by the Supreme Court chief justice that validated the use of extra-constitutional emergency powers, as well as a 1977 decision that validated a military coup.
Kakar's comments came a day before Pakistan's crucial World Cup game against New Zealand in Bengaluru where a win meant they remained in the tournament until the last round of games.
They came after a meeting between the prime minister and Shahid Afridi, the former Pakistan captain and allrounder, who had publicly criticised Ashraf on a TV show earlier in the week. That meeting then led to one on Friday between Afridi and Ashraf at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. The PCB released a statement after that meeting saying that Afridi had expressed an interest in working with younger cricketers.
"Shahid Afridi expressed his interest in grooming young cricketers into future stars and positively shaping them into well-rounded representatives of Pakistan cricket," the statement said. "He also admired and appreciated Mr Zaka Ashraf's efforts and contributions for Pakistan cricket."