Matches (19)
WI vs SA (1)
IPL (1)
ENG v PAK (W) (1)
County DIV1 (5)
County DIV2 (4)
CE Cup (4)
T20WC Warm-up (3)
News

Political developments put Zaka Ashraf's PCB future under a cloud

Pakistan's IPC ministry asks for "immediate termination of services of all heads of institutions appointed on political basis"

Danyal Rasool
Danyal Rasool
23-Aug-2023
Zaka Ashraf arrives at the PCB office after being reinstated as chairman, Lahore, May 19, 2014

Zaka Ashraf was named head of PCB's new management committee back in July  •  Associated Press

Political developments could make their impact felt on the PCB yet again after Pakistan's Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) ministry sent a note to the Prime Minister's office that places the spotlight on the future of PCB head Zaka Ashraf.
The letter references guidelines issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan, asking to "ensure immediate termination of services of all heads of institutions appointed on political basis and to send all such cases to the commission for approval of termination or otherwise". Ashraf is highlighted as the first such case worthy of consideration, denoting him as a political appointee with the Pakistan People's Party (PPP).
The letter was signed off by the secretary of the IPC, Ahmed Orakzai, on August 15, and was addressed to the caretaker government, but only came to light a week later. The caretaker Prime Minister, Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar, was appointed the day before the communication was written. It is worth noting that the IPC, the ministry which sent the note to the PM's office, does not currently have a sitting minister and in such cases, the PM assumes temporary charge of the ministry; effectively, Kakar is head of the ministry that issued the letter, as well as the one that received it.
While caretaker governments have historically shown little desire to interfere with the workings of the PCB, there are reasons to believe it could be different this time around. The primary task of caretaker governments in Pakistan is to facilitate conditions for elections to be held within 90 days. But days after the caretaker government was set up, the Election Commission of Pakistan announced that elections scheduled for no later than November would be postponed by several months. That means this caretaker government could take on the role of a regular government, and make decisions on a wider remit of things beyond just election preparations.
While the note was issued over a week ago, serious ramifications have not yet been felt at the PCB. The board officials are confident that Ashraf's position remains safe, and ESPNcricinfo understands that the government had offered the current PCB setup assurances they were not looking to bring about changes at the top. A PCB source criticised what it called "the recent campaign against the PCB's head" as "malafide", and said it was intended "to destabilise Pakistan cricket".
It has been pointed out that Ashraf resigned from the PPP on June 19, and therefore could not be considered a political appointee. It was also pointed out that the PCB has never played any part in Pakistan's national or federal elections, and thus no caretaker government had any cause to make changes at the board.
Ashraf was approved as head of a management committee by former PM Shahbaz Sharif to take charge at the PCB for a period of four months in July, after Najam Sethi resigned from the position. At the time, the political implications of the move were significant, with Sethi specifically citing a desire not to cause a rift between the PML(N)'s leader Shahbaz Sharif, and the PPP leader Asif Zardari, with the latter preferring Ashraf to Sethi as PCB head.
In the coalition between the two parties, the sports ministry was held by Zardari's PPP government, who insisted that meant they had the right to appoint a PCB head of choice. Two weeks later, Ashraf assumed charge at the helm of the PCB.

Danyal Rasool is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @Danny61000