LAHORE: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Sethi has said that he has rejoined the Board after getting a clear order from the Inter-provincial Coordination (IPC) Ministry.
Addressing his first news conference after rejoining the PCB on Thursday following the Supreme Court order of granting stay against Zaka Ashraf taking charge of the PCB, Sethi said he came to the PCB after chief operating officer Subhan Ahmad got permission from the IPC ministry.
Sethi sought IPC’s consent because two parties in the legal case — retired Air Commodore Arshad Hussain and Arbab Altaf — on whose request the IHC restored Zaka as PCB chairman last Saturday, have the claim that Sethi could not rejoin the PCB because the SC order had not suspended the Islamabad High Court judgment but only issued stay against its operations, thus both Zaka and Sethi should not work as PCB chairman and only the chief operating officer could run the Board until the final decision of the apex court.
Answering a question, Sethi said he did not want to discuss the SC proceedings because the matter was sub judice. However, he said: “A three-member bench has given the order in our favour just after seven minutes of hearing which should be a clear signal for all.”
‘We want to host Sri Lanka with the help of Punjab government’
Sethi said that frequent change of guard in the PCB set-up was not good and advised cricketers that they should worry because a separate system was already under process for them which would safeguard them.
“So, cricketers should focus on their work and hopefully the matter of the PCB chairman will be settled down soon,” he commented.
He further said that his main priority had been to bring a foreign team to Pakistan and in this regard he said he was upbeat after a recent statement of the Sri Lankan president which, he said, the PCB had taken seriously.
The Sri Lankan president has expressed desire that the Sri Lankan team should play in Pakistan.
“To grab the opportunity, the PCB will write a letter to the Sri Lankan cricket board to formally request them to send their national team to Pakistan as we will ensure that all required security is provided to the Sri Lankans,” he said, adding: “We want to host Sri Lanka with the help of Punjab government.”
It is important to note that the Sri Lankan team was attacked by terrorists in Lahore as a result of which no country is willing to visit Pakistan. It will, however, be interesting to see how serious the Sri Lankan cricket authorities take assurance of Sethi after getting the same kind of assurances from former president Asif Ali Zardari in 2009.
When asked Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq’s vehicle was not allowed to enter the PCB premises the previous day because of measures taken for his (Sethi) security, he said as PCB chairman there was no security threat to him but as a journalist he did face threats.
“Though my name is not on the list of those journalists who could be hurt, I use armoured vehicle as a precautionary step.”
It may be mentioned here that the government of Punjab is providing 24-hour security to Sethi with the chairman coming to the PCB office amid tight security which gives other countries the impression that the security situation in Pakistan is not satisfactory.
Former PCB chairman Ijaz Butt during whose tenure the Sri Lankan team was attacked was also not given any security.
Meanwhile, to a question, Sethi said that he would succeed in holding fresh PCB elections by June 9.
“We have already sent the new PCB constitution to the government to vet it and as we get it back we will be ready to hold the elections under more democratic system,” he said.
Sethi claimed that attempts had been made in the new constitution to reduce role of the patron of the PCB (prime minister) in electing new chairman.
However, Sethi soon contradicted his own statement about the role of the PCB patron saying if the patron allows him to contest the elections he would do so which means the patron will have the role to get his nominated man elected as it has been happening in the past.
Sethi further said that he had already asked the IPC Ministry to approve the new draft of the constitution as he did not want any extension in the tenure of the Management Committee which ends on June 10.
He further said the PCB had no link with cricketer Naveed Arif whose name had been reported in a match-fixing scandal, saying he had been playing in England for the last four years.
To a question, he said that operation in connection with eradication of corruption in the PCB was not a matter which could be solved in a few days as it needed continuity.
“To clean up cricket, I wanted to bring in Rashid Latif as chief selector because the players would have taken extra care due to his presence, and I still want to include more honest people who are still out of the board,” he remarked.
Sethi also disclosed that he had already signed the summary to clear all financial arrears of cricketers.
“I don’t want to stop payment to anyone. So after joining the PCB, I signed the summary to release arrears,” he said.
He added that many cricketers made telephonic contact with him during the last two days, saying they prayed for his return as PCB chairman.
Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2014