Feb 152014
Politics trumps cricket at PCB

George Paul – Last week brought a big change. Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Zaka Ashraf made an exit. Najam Sethi came in. The dismissal was handed down by the patron, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, dissolving the board of governors. An ad-hoc committee was put in place for picking a chairman from among its eight members. Not surprisingly, Sethi, who acted as interim chairman while Ashraf had … Click for detailed story

Feb 102014
Analysis: How the govt got its timing all wrong


Cricket is all about timing. By now it is quite clear that the government has acted in slow motion. It took too long to remove Zaka Ashraf from the top post of Pakistan Cricket Boards (PCB). Surely, it ought to have taken that step soon after the Islamabad High Court reinstated Ashraf — at least that is what is being whispered in sporting circles.

If Najam Sethi had taken charge of the PCB earlier, he would have attended the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) meeting with the mandate of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is busy establishing friendly ties with India.

In such a case, if the PM had taken up the issue with India at his level, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) might be persuaded to strike a deal with Pakistan and the country might have been spared the agony of the setback as well as the international isolation it had to face.

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However, in the actual case, Zaka Ashraf could not get an audience with the prime minister in spite of his multiple written requests. On a closer analysis, it appears that the government did not dismiss him earlier to avoid the allegations of a reprisal.

All this script seems to be written by some really smart guy. Even Najam Sethi had been aware of the Big Three issue for a long time but he did not reveal this before.

The government decided to make the most of the opportunity and thought that people would interpret the dismissal as coming from Ashraf’s mishandling of the issue. But interestingly, people had seen it coming as such news was in circulation for many days.

Here it must be remembered that Zaka Ashraf belongs to the Pakistan Peoples Party and he had severe differences with some members of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). When the Sri Lankan team was attacked in Lahore, he had called it the incompetence of the PML-N led Punjab government. He appears to be paying for such comments.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2014.

Jan 152014
IHC reinstates Zaka Ashraf as PCB chairman

ISLAMABAD / KARACHI: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday reinstated Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) former chairman Zaka Ashraf, nullifying his suspension by a single-judge bench of the IHC in May last year.

A two-judge bench – comprising Justice Riaz Ahmed Khan and Justice Noorul Haq N Qureshi – declared Ashraf’s suspension order null and void. Last month, the bench had reserved its judgment over an intra-court appeal against the judgment given by Justice Shaukat Siddiqui.

The bench observed that Ashraf’s suspension was outside the jurisdiction of Article 199 of the 1973 Constitution. Requirements of justice had not been met as the PCB chairman was suspended without being given a chance for hearing, the bench stated in its verdict.

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In May 2013, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the IHC declared the election of Zaka Ashraf illegal after a former coach of Pakistan Army cricket team, Major (retd) Ahmad Nadeem challenged his election procedure.

Ashraf became the first elected chairman of the PCB in May 2013 under a constitution which was formed in compliance with International Cricket Council’s requirement to end government’s intervention.

However, the process of election in which Punjab and Karachi were snubbed was challenged in the IHC. Justice Siddiqui had declared Sections 28, 29, 30 and 31 of the PCB Charter illegal and observed that these sections were unconstitutional and against democratic values.

Although a detailed judgment is yet to be revealed, Ashraf’s lawyer Afnan Karim Kundi, who had filed the intra-court appeal, said that his client could immediately resume charge at the PCB.

Interestingly, PCB’s Interim Management Committee (IMC), headed by Najam Sethi, has ostensibly been superseded within hours following the ruling. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had appointed Sethi as PCB’s chairman, is the patron of the board and had recently given a three-month extension to the IMC.

Subsequently, Sethi was appointed as interim chairman in June but the IHC barred him from taking major decisions since his appointment was not made as per the court’s guidelines. The IHC also ordered fresh elections.

But Sethi failed to hold elections and three days before the deadline, the premier dissolved the governing body on October 15 and formed the IMC. Sethi was unanimously elected as the panel’s chairman by other IMC members.

“We are still waiting for the detailed judgment,” PCB’s legal counsel Taffazul Rizvi told The Express Tribune, adding that things would become clearer after the detailed judgment which would be implemented in letter and spirit.

Relieved Ashraf vows to clean up the ‘mess’

Meanwhile, Ashraf said he always had faith in the independent judiciary.  “I will take charge tomorrow or the day after,” he said. “I am thankful to the judiciary for restoring me. “My priority will be to clean the mess and the prevailing atmosphere of confusion created within the PCB in my absence.”

Ashraf, who was appointed by the Pakistan Peoples Party government, hoped the government would not interfere in the PCB’s affairs. “I never brought politics into cricket and always believed that the sport should be politics-free,” Ashraf added.

Meanwhile, an official privy to the development, said that Wednesday’s verdict of the IHC was likely to be challenged in the Supreme Court.

“The government is likely to challenge the judgment and will seek a stay,” said the official. “However, any decision will be taken after the detailed judgment.”

Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th, 2014.

Jan 152014
IHC restores Zaka Ashraf as PCB chairman

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) restored Zaka Ashraf as the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) chairman on Wednesday, Express News reported.

The decision to reinstate Ashraf was taken by a two-member division bench consisting of Justice Noorul Haq N Qureshi and Justice Riaz Ahmed Khan.

The court accepted the intra-court appeal against the decision by a single-member bench of IHC comprising of Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui.

While speaking to the media, Ashraf said he never mixed politics with cricketing matters. “I want to maintain good working relations with all the stakeholders,” he said, adding that he will work according to the system and will not interfere in matters that fall outside his domain.

“Our focus should be on working together to improve the standard of cricket in the country,” he said.

Appointment declared ‘illegal’

On July 19, 2013, the Islamabad High Court had declared appointment of Ashraf “illegal” and directed the acting PCB chief Najam Sethi to hold elections within 90 days.

In a 30-page detailed judgment, Justice Siddiqui had pointed out that Ashraf was not appointed on the basis of his career as a cricketer, but because he was Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited’s (ZTBL) president. While declaring illegal sections 28, 29, 30 and 31 of the PCB charter, the court had observed that these sections were unconstitutional and against democratic values.

On May 28, 2013, the court had declared illegal his appointment in its short order after it was challenged by former coach of the army cricket team, Major (retd) Ahmed Nadeem, citing mala fide intentions in the PCB election.

Ashraf, 60, had been PCB chairman since October 2011.  On May 8, 2013 Ashraf had become the elected head of the sport body, after winning a four-year term under a new constitution approved earlier last year.

Ashraf was accused of corruption. There had been complaints against the ex-chairman for wasting the board’s money by appointing 68 employees on lucrative packages on the basis of favouritism and nepotism. He had also come under the radar for appointing army officials, who had retired or were close to retirement.

Ashraf rebuffs accusations

Ashraf had refuted the accusations, claiming that a group of people were trying to tarnish his image.

“I’ve enjoyed a clean reputation whether being at PCB or ZTBL,” he had said. “Those who have filed cases against me are the ones who were terminated on corruption charges at ZTBL.

“In my leadership, ZTBL had posted a profit of Rs12 billion, the highest by any bank in 50 years. I also tried to take the PCB to new heights by appointing professionals.”

He had added that out of 68 appointees in his tenure most were ground staff while others were vigilance officials who were the need of the hour.


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Jun 112013
LHC seeks PCB’s comment over BoG dissolution plea

LAHORE- The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday directed a federal government lawyer to take instructions from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Patron-in-Chief Asif Ali Zardari in response to a petition seeking dissolution of Board of Governors. The petitioner, through his counsel, submitted that the court restrained PCB chief Zaka Ashraf from performing his responsibilities. After the stay, the … Click for detailed story

Apr 272013
PCB to examine rejection of Kaneria's appeal against ban

KARACHI The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) would legally examine the dismissal of the appeal made by leg-spinner Danish Kaneria against his ban on charges of spot-fixing. An ECB panel in London had rejected Kaneria’s appeal against the life ban, handed out to him over charges of spot-fixing. PCB chairman, Zaka Ashraf said the Board lawyers will examine Kaneria’s appeal verdict. “We will ask … Click for detailed story

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