May 28, 2014

Musical chair hurting Pakistan cricket


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The musical chair at the top for the past one year has started to hurt the Pakistan cricket very seriously and there’s hardly any indication to suggest that remedial measures will be taken for damage control purposes.

In fact the manner in which the government has put its weight behind Najam Sethi has put doubts in the minds of the people whether there’s any intention of the powers that be to steer the Pakistan cricket out of the mess.

It looks quite strange, if not totally surprising, that the democratically elected government has not been prepared to let Chaudhary Zaka Ashraf work at all although he was elected to the position of the Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in 2013 through a democratic process.

Earlier this month he had been reinstated as the PCB Chairman for the second time this year, after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) annulled the committee headed by Najam Sethi, Even before Zaka Ashraf could properly step in, he was shown the door again.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered a stay against the IHC judgement and a three-judge bench, headed by Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, accepted the government's plea on May 20, reinstated the Najam Sethi-led management committee to run the PCB, and restored all its decisions. The bench has called all the parties involved for a hearing on May 27. It remains to be seen how many more twists there would be to this tale.

The reinstatement of Najam Sethi wasn’t generally welcomed in the cricket circles of Pakistan as besides his own dubious record there are a few others in his so-called Management Committee, having caused more damage to the game than him in the past.

Zaka Ashraf, on the other hand, was looking good in whatever little time he was allowed to work at the helm of the affairs. His decision to rope in Arif Ali Khan Abbasi appeared a masterstroke in these circumstances. Alas that couldn’t materialize.

It’s painful really to compromise on the interests of the game which unites the nation and brings smiles on the faces of the millions, the majority of whom have thousands of issues up their sleeves.

It would have been advisable to let Zaka Ashraf work for a considerable length of time because he had shown a lot of promise and guts to take the Pakistan cricket out of shambles. The government could have intervened if he was found wanting or committed acts that defied national policies.

But to shoot him down just for the political reasons or to accommodate someone seems unfair by all means. They could have obliged Najam Sethi in some other ways, as they were already doing, but to engage him in the cricket affairs at the expense of a democratically elected chairman doesn’t make sense.

Isn’t it a pity that Zaka Ashraf was forced to devote the major chunk of his energies in counter-productive events for the past one year? He had many plans to fulfill when he became the first-ever elected chairman of the PCB last May. Less than three weeks after his election, the IHC had barred him from dispensing his duties, following questions over the legality of his appointment. 


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