The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Abbasi back in frame
- After ‘approach’, former PCB chief executive lays pre-condition

Calcutta: Eight-and-quarter years after quitting the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), the suave Arif Ali Khan Abbasi is back in the frame somewhat.

And, at a time when the PCB seems headed for another phase of turmoil following former captain Rameez Raja’s resignation as chief executive.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, “somebody very close” to General Pervez Musharraf, the country’s supremo and PCB patron, has already opened “a line of communication” with the Karachi-based Abbasi.

Abbasi — who himself quit as chief executive a few weeks after the successful completion of the co-hosted 1996 World Cup — wasn’t available for comment, but sources indicated he has placed a “pre-condition.”

Apparently, Abbasi has told the gentleman who made two telephone calls (on Sunday and Monday) that any offer will only be considered if the present dispensation is out.

Effectively, it means that PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan must either resign or be made to do so before Abbasi agrees on a return.

That could either be as chief executive or, even, as the chairman.

It’s not insignificant, perhaps, that the country’s Senate has been after the PCB and, just the other day, Senator M. E. Baig actually called for Shaharyar’s head.

A former foreign secretary, Shaharyar took over last December after Lt Gen. (retd) Tauqir Zia surprised everybody by quitting.

Abbasi, one learns, has been consistently calling for an end to ad-hocism in the PCB. Shockingly, neither the general body nor the executive council has met for five years.

As a source explained, Abbasi wants the PCB to be respected like an “institution.” If the powers-that-be continue to look the other way, it’s unlikely he is going to come on board.

Incidentally, Abbasi resigned (in May 1996) when the country’s then President, Farooq Leghari, sought to effect a change in the “character of the PCB.”

Footnote: While it’s to be seen what comes of the telephone calls, Musharraf had turned to Abbasi to take charge of PIA within hours of his 1999 coup. Abbasi did quit as managing director, later, but only because he differed with the chairman over disposing off a couple of the airline’s premium properties overseas.

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