Zaka Ashraf, Najam Sethi set to contest PCB leadership again

Author: Umar Farooq

LAHORE: A change in Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) leadership could be imminent as the management committee led by Najam Sethi begins the last two weeks of its tenure, and the leading contender to replace him is his old rival and former board chairman Zaka Ashraf. On June 7, Sethi met Pakistan’s prime minister Shahbaz Sharif at his residence in Islamabad to brief him about the PCB’s progress over the last five months. A few kilometres away, Ashraf had a meeting with the federal minister for inter-provincial coordination (IPC), Ehsan ur Rehman Mazari, who acts as a conduit between the PCB and the government. With the IPC being the ministry that deals with sports in Pakistan, Mazari confirmed Zaka was being nominated to head the PCB.

Sethi and Ashraf have history tussling for the PCB leadership; the two of them were involved in a protracted legal battle for the position in 2013 and 2014. That issue was settled when former prime minister Nawaz Sharif ousted Ashraf and brought in Sethi. Now, Sethi is backed by the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML – N) while Ashraf has the support of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and both parties are part of the coalition that has formed the country’s government.

“When this government was formed, it was decided that parties [in the alliance] who have respective ministries will have a say in naming the man for the respective job,” Mazari said on Wednesday. “Hence, IPC is with PPP, so we will have our man [in the PCB]. Also, Sethi’s nomination [for the full term] is a conflict of interest as he is heading the management committee tasked to carry out elections but they are becoming a part of the process and getting them elected.”

The management committee headed by Sethi has been running the PCB since Ramiz Raja was removed as chairman and the board’s 2019 constitution was scrapped in December last year. Sethi’s committee was initially given 120 days to bring back the 2014 version of the PCB constitution and reinstate the regional and services structure in domestic cricket. The committee was also given a mandate to form a board of governors and elect a chairman.

Over the last four months, Sethi has been instrumental in hiring a predominantly overseas coaching staff for Pakistan, with Mickey Arthur as part time director of cricket. Sethi’s committee was then given a two-month extension to complete its tasks and that extension will end on June 22. Its biggest undertaking was to conduct elections across all of Pakistan’s provinces. It required 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, which is the prime minister. The term of each member of the BoG is three years – equivalent to one term of the chairman.

The committee wasn’t far from completing the process but ran into legal trouble after several regional clubs lodged complaints that questioned the fairness of the election process. Three members of the management committee – Tanvir Ahmed, who has been elected president of Larkana region; Gul Zada, from Peshawar region; and Shakil Sheikh, who is in the running in Islamabad – working from the PCB headquarters are at the centre of the issue. Once the board is formed, the prime minister will use his discretion to nominate two names, of which one will become PCB chairman through an electoral process within the board.

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