LAHORE: At last it happened what many feared.

Curator Wajid Hussain Shah, who was among 243 ground staff members waiting to receive their three-month salary from the Pakistan Cricket Board, died of cardiac arrest in Rawalpindi on Wednesday.

The PCB had not paid him monthly salary for the last three months.

The 49-year-old Wajid, it is said, was facing extreme economic hardship. With no money to pay house rent and buy ration for his family, the dire situation caught him in hypertension and resulted in his tragic death. He has left wife and a daughter in mourning.

The heart-breaking demise of Wajid is the most glaring example that explicitly exposes the insensitive, unprofessional and hard-hearted manner with which the PCB has managed its affairs in recent times.

The ill-fated curator of the Pindi Cricket Stadium, who had been working at the PCB for the last 12 years, was an employee of erstwhile Rawalpindi Region. The PCB under the new constitution abolished regions but failed to take necessary follow-up actions required to maintain and take care of its ground staff and others across Pakistan.

It is very unfortunate that on one hand the PCB, according to sources, is giving hefty paychecks to its chief executive Wasim Khan (Rs3.2 million per month) and chief selector-cum-head coach Misbah-ul-Haq (Rs3.8 million per month). While on the other, it has miserably failed to timely disburse salaries of its 243 ground staff members — who earn monthly incomes ranging between Rs15,000 and Rs25,000 — during the past three months.

Though the PCB on Wednesday offered some words of consolation in respect of the deceased soul, it again tried to justify its decision of not making any payment to the ground staff for the last three months.

The new PCB constitution, under which regional bodies were abolished, binding the PCB to take all its fresh decisions should have been implemented forthwith,

However, despite the passage of almost three months the PCB could not devise any concrete plan to implement the new constitution making the future of its ground staff uncertain.

The PCB in its press release on Wednesday stated: “The PCB is saddened with the news of curator Wajid Shah’s passing as it respects and values all those officials who work and contribute for the betterment of cricket.

“While the PCB is in the process of fulfilling its commitment of paying two months salaries to all the 243 curators, it is important to note, remember and understand that the 243 curators were the employees of the ground owners, while the role of the PCB was to only pay their salaries on behalf of the 16 regions through which they were employed,” a PCB spokesperson said.

Interestingly, the PCB took a stance that these are the employees of the ground owners. However, in fact, these are employees of the regional bodies whose all expenses were being met by the PCB, before it dissolved them.

And if the PCB has brought in a fresh system, it should have decided the fate of all the affected persons well in time. Even today, the PCB could not finalise any policy to safeguard the future of the curators and ground staff who are the fundamental human-resource asset of the game.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2019