ISLAMABAD- Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday removed the country’s cricket chief Zaka Ashraf in the latest twist to the long-running saga dogging the national board.
It is the second time in less than a year that Ashraf has been unseated as chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), which will be run for now by an 11-strong interim committee appointed by Sharif.
Ashraf’s removal by a court order in May last year due to doubts over his election kicked off a series of legal challenges that critics say has damaged the sport in Pakistan.
A notice from the prime minister, who is also patron of the PCB, confirmed Ashraf’s removal.
“Prime Minister has removed Ashraf from his post as PCB chairman and has appointed a 11-man interim committee to run cricket affairs,” Irfanullah Khan, lawyer for Inter-Provincial Committee (IPC) told AFP.
“The PM has amended the PCB constitution, under which the decision of Ashraf’s removal was made.”
The IPC runs sports affairs in the country and last week sent a summary on Ashraf’s removal to the PM.
The reasons for Ashraf’s removal are still unknown but sources pointed to Ashraf’s failure to give Pakistan a strong voice at a crucial International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting in Singapore on Saturday.
The ICC approved a controversial revamp at the meeting which gave major powers and revenues to the so-called “Big Three” of world cricket — India, Australia and England.
The interim committee has the power to select a chairman, with journalist Najam Sethi favourite to regain the post.
After Ashraf’s sacking in May 2013, Sethi was appointed as chairman of the PCB, but his tenure hit snags after another court ruling curtailed his powers.
Sharif in October imposed an ad-hoc setup on the PCB and Sethi took over as chairman of an interim committee.
That changed again when a two-man division bench of the Islamabad high court reinstated Ashraf last month.
The IPC appealed against Ashraf’s reinstatement in the Supreme Court but withdrew the challenge after the court said that Sharif, as PCB patron, had the power to nominate anyone as PCB chairman, a guidance that led to Ashraf’s removal once more.
The PCB chairmanship has been a topic of controversy ever since the board’s inception in 1948, with the ruling political party of the day generally giving the post to one of their supporters.