Nijam Sethi appointed interim PCB chairman after Zaka Ashraf's suspension

Zaka Ashraf was suspended as PCB chief by Islamabad High Court © Getty Images

Karachi: Jun 23, 2013

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appointed senior journalist Najam Sethi as the interim chairman of the national Cricket Board (PCB) on Sunday.

Sethi’s appointment came after the Islamabad High Court directed the government to appoint an interim Chairman after it had suspended Zaka Ashraf from working as Chairman of the Board over allegations of unconstitutional process followed in the PCB elections in May.

Sethi in his first interaction with the media in Lahore made it clear that he had been asked by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to put the cricket board affairs in order and he would do his best.

“The PM has given me a task and I know just how passionate are the people about this sport. I myself am a big fan of cricket and now I have to chance to do some good for cricket in Pakistan,” he said.

Sethi who was Editor of a popular English daily and did a popular political talk show on Geo News before becoming the Chief Minister of the Punjab province in the caretaker government said he would tread carefully.

“All the decisions I will take, will be in consultation with the court and inter provincial coordination ministry. I dont want to act in haste but we have to see that the new constitution of the board meets the requirements of Pakistan cricket and is enforced properly at every level,” he said, indicating he would go for a review of the controversial constitution.

The Islamabad High Court suspended Ashraf in May after a constitutional writ petition was filed by a former coach of the Army cricket team against his election and against the election process.

Ashraf was initially appointed Chairman by President Asif Zardari in October, 2011 but in May this year after the board implemented a new constitution he was elected as Chairman.

But many challenges have been filed in the courts against his election and the election process. The writ petitions say the process was flawed.

The IHC also observed in its initial hearing that the election process appeared to be malafide and polluted.

The IHC had also stopped Ashraf from attending the ICC annual executive board meeting in London next week and ordered the government to appoint a interim Chairman and send him instead.

Sethi said he would be going for the meeting as he wanted to meet with ICC officials to discuss the constitution which has been approved by the ICC under its democratisation process for member boards.

“I want to meet with ICC officials and the member boards to discuss the problems facing Pakistan cricket because we have not had any international teams coming to Pakistan for a while now,” he said.

Sethi said while the ICCs guidelines for a new constitution to member boards was meant to introduce more democracy but one had to see whether these guidelines were suited for countries like Pakistan.

“Democratic process and elections in a fair and transparent manner at the grass root level is a difficult thing.”

Asked about his credentials to run cricket affairs, Sethi pointed out to the media that none of the members of the board’s of Governors had played first class cricket.

“My job is an administrative one and tell me except for Ijaz Butt or Javed Burki who head of the board has even played First-Class cricket.”

Sethi said after the national teams recent poor show in the Champions Trophy people were disappointed and steps were required to restore their confidence.