Karachi: The Islamabad High Court on Saturday once again reinstated Zaka Ashraf as chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), setting aside an order of the government issued in February which had appointed a management committee to run the game in the country.
This is the second time that the High Court has reinstated Ashraf as the PCB chief. In January too, it had restored him to the top post while ruling on petitions filed on the issue.
The High Court gave its decision on a petition that challenged Ashraf’s sacking by the government in February due to which Najam Sethi took over as head of the PCB with the 12-member management committee.
Justice Noor-ul Haq termed Ashraf’s removal last February illegal, besides questioning the formation of the management committee that worked under Sethi’s chairmanship.
The High Court declared invalid the notification issued on February 10 after the Prime Minister appointed the interim committee to run the affairs of the PCB. The court ruling also disqualified Najam Sethi as chief of the PCB.
The legal advisor of the PCB, Tafazzul Rizvi said that they had also come to know through media reports about the High Court decision. “What we know is that a judgement has been announced and we await a detailed copy of the judgement after which we can say anything on this… Suffice to say court’s decision will be respected,” Rizvi said.
A reliable source in the PCB said that the ruling had caught everyone by surprise. “We knew that the petitions challenging the government order and Ashraf’s sacking were to be heard on May 20. Today the court was hearing a petition filed by some employees dismissed by the PCB recently,” the source added.
He said there were four petitions pending at the High Court against Najam Sethi and the government order and in one of them Ashraf himself was a petitioner.
Besides reinstating Ashraf, the court has also reinstated 38 employees who were recently sacked by the PCB.
Ironically, the judgement came just as Sethi chaired a meeting of the management committee at the PCB headquarters in Lahore on Saturday.
Ashraf, meanwhile, vowed to clean up Pakistan cricket. “I will do everything in my power to improve our cricket system as soon as I take charge,” Ashraf said after learning about the High Court decision to reinstate him as chairman for a second time this year.
“I don’t know about the detailed judgement as yet but I welcome it and once I take charge we will take decisions that are good for Pakistan cricket,” he added.
Ashraf was accused of lavish spending and violating the rules of the PCB while spending money from the PCB coffers in an audit report that was published in the media this week.
“All this is rubbish and there was no mismanagement in my tenure. I took all measures in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Board and did not indulge in any lavish spending,” Ashraf said. The decision has created a lot of uncertainty in the PCB with the newly-appointed head coach Waqar Younis, spin bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed, chief selector and manager Moin Khan all unsure whether Ashraf will allow them to continue once he takes over.
Interestingly, Ashraf in an interview this week had lashed out at Sethi for appointing “tainted” persons to important coaching positions. Ashraf’s criticism was clearly aimed at Waqar and Mushtaq and even Moin whom he had sacked as manager when he was reinstated in February.
“Only God knows what will happen now. Today Ashraf didn’t show up at the Board offices but obviously he will come on Monday and then it is going to be a strange situation… now only the government can sort out this mess,” one official said.
Sethi chaired a meeting of management committee in Lahore on Saturday in which he apprised the members that as per terms of reference of the committee, revisions in the PCB constitution were required to make it more democratic and representative.