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Clarke’s veiled warning to Pakistan courts must not be taken lightly

Updated September 21, 2013
It is clear that the ICC and the ECB wanted this current process of ‘selecting’ the PCB chairman to continue. -File photo by AFP
It is clear that the ICC and the ECB wanted this current process of ‘selecting’ the PCB chairman to continue. -File photo by AFP

The recent statement from the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) Giles Clarke about Pakistan cricket came as a complete surprise to me and was a reflection of how naive and biased the ECB chairman can be. His predecessors would be astonished at the way he had interfered in the internal affairs of Pakistan cricket and, in fact, sent a veiled warning to the courts here.

The statement from Mr Clarke, which appeared in a section of press including Dawn on Sept 12, was indicative of his arrogance and was seemingly a bid to impede the efforts to put Pakistan cricket on a democratic path.

In his statement, issued from London, Mr Clarke had said: “At the ICC and Pakistan Task Team (PTT) we are concerned that [Pakistan’s] judicial system should not be used to derail the important improvement in PCB’s governance in recent times and the PCB must be allowed to manage its [day-to-day] affairs independently.

“Otherwise, the ICC and PTT will seek to help Pakistan cricket, which is a very integral part of world cricket. We could move to create an environment in which the administrators can function in pursuance of the ICC constitution without any outside interference,” said Clarke.

Now I believe this tantamounts to an attempt to influence the petitions pending in the court of law as well as the forthcoming PCB elections. Perhaps, his remarks were aimed at sending a signal here in Pakistan that unconstitutional powers should be given to the existing caretaker set-up in the PCB. After all, whatever the court has done so far and is doing, is in accordance with the constitution of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

In the news item, Clarke was quoted as a former head of the [now defunct] Pakistan Task Team (PTT). For those who don’t know, this was the task force constituted by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in 2009.

The task of the PTT was to help the poorly managed PCB to govern in a better manner as well as to bring back Pakistan to a position where it could host international matches again.

After three years, the PTT was disbanded with no results to show on their part other than a few documents and SOPs. The report, if there was one, must surely have been thick and heavy but surely quite useless. I say this because there is no visible impact of PTT actions (if any) on Pakistan cricket and the international cricket teams are still shying away from touring this country.

Even the England team which is governed by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), of which Mr Clarke is the chairman, refused to tour Pakistan last year and played in the UAE instead. That is enough to gauge the failure on the part of the PTT, led by none other than Mr Giles Clarke.

Here, I would like to remind you about the ideology of the ICC. The apex cricket governing body wants a democratic set-up in all the member countries and there is nothing wrong with that. But I would like to know if before commenting on the judicial proceedings in Pakistan, did Mr Clarke bother to investigate the manner in which the recent PCB elections were held a few weeks ago? How could the ICC approve the sham procedures that were adopted to get Zaka Ashraf elected as the Board chairman?

Also, by poking their nose into Pakistan’s internal affairs, aren’t these officials giving an impression that they know things much better than the honourable judges of Pakistan?

It is clear that the ICC and the ECB wanted this current process of ‘selecting’ the PCB chairman to continue because, not only did they approve the dubious elections, they are now hinting that the PCB should be left alone to make its own decisions without taking an advice from the judiciary.

What surprised me most was the fact that the ECB chairman commented on the Pakistan cricket scenario rather than the ICC. England is just another member of the ICC like Pakistan and they have no right to publicly comment on the internal affairs of a fellow member board.

Secondly, the court should also seek an explanation why the PCB hasn’t contradicted the statement of the ECB chairman despite passage of five days, or issued a letter asking why Clarke had interfered in the internal affairs of a fellow ICC member.

I would like to ask Mr Clarke why he chose this juncture to issue such a statement after meeting with the caretaker PCB chairman. The court judgment came almost a month ago, so why didn’t Mr Clarke react at the time of that judgment. What is the reason for this very late realisation that the judiciary should not be allowed to derail the system?

The writer is a former Pakistan captain