Pakistan Television said on Thursday that anchorperson Dr Nauman Niaz and former fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar will be taken "off air" until an inquiry committee formed to investigate the heated exchange between the two completed its inquiry.
In a statement shared on Twitter, the state broadcaster said that the inquiry was under way. "It has been decided that Niaz and Akhtar will be taken off air until the the inquiry is completed," the statement said.
It added that neither of the two will be allowed to participate on any PTV programme until the inquiry is completed and all the facts become clear.
Reacting to the announcement, Akhtar said: "Well that's hilarious. I resigned in front of 220 million Pakistanis and billions across the world. Is PTV crazy or what? Who are they to off air me?"
Earlier today, the former fast bowler had refused to appear before the inquiry committee formed to investigate the incident which took place during a live telecast on PTV Sports two days ago.
Speaking to DawnNews, Akhtar said, "Whatever happened is out there for everyone to see. [The committee] can make the decision after watching the videos [of the show]."
The episode had caused an uproar on social media with politicians, journalists and mediapersons coming to the former cricketer's defence and criticising Niaz for his behaviour.
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry had said a committee will be formed to probe the incident and subsequently the PTV administration had formed an inquiry committee.
Senator Faisal Javed, who heads the Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology, had also regretted the incident and announced that he would take up the issue before the committee.
He had chided PTV for going completely off track and called on the state broadcaster to restore its legacy.
“It’s not only about our heroes, it’s also about our prestige and dignity. It’s also about our state broadcaster. Very unprofessionally handled. When everyone is praising Pakistan and acknowledging it’s tremendous performance in World Cup why would you do it? Respect your heroes,” the senator had tweeted.
The altercation between Akhtar and Niaz had taken place during a post-match analysis after Pakistan's win against New Zealand in a T20 World Cup fixture on Tuesday.
The two were part of a panel for PTV Sports' programme 'Game On Hai', along with guests such as West Indies batting legend Sir Vivian Richards, former England captain David Gower, former Pakistan women's captain Sana Mir and former fast bowler Umar Gul.
During a discussion on the Pakistan squad, Akhtar had credited the Pakistan Super League's Lahore Qalandars franchise for discovering Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf.
Niaz, however, had taken issue with Akhtar's comments and said: "You are being a little rude so I don't want to say this but if you're being over-smart then you can go. I am saying this on air."
Once the show had resumed after a break, Akhtar had apologised to the guests on the panel and announced his resignation from PTV, saying he could not continue with the programme because of "how I was treated on national television".
However, in another snippet from the show, Akhtar was seen telling Niaz to let the audience know "it was all planned."
"What we did is just try and get more TRP (television rating point)," he says in the video clip, adding that the anchor is a "favourite guy" of his and he likes to "pull his legs".
Shoaib Akhtar's clarification
Later, Akhtar rejected the notion that the incident was a pre-planned move to boost TRP as he gave context to his own remarks that, on face, appeared an admission of it being a stunt.
"I tried to save everyone from embarrassment by saying I was pulling Dr Noman's leg with this mutual understanding that Dr Noman will also politely apologise and we will move on with the show, which he refused to do. Then I had no other choice," the paceman had tweeted.
Terming the entire thing as an "unpleasant" incident, Akhtar had said Niaz was being "obnoxious" and had asked him to leave for "no rhyme and reason".
"He sidelined me after abruptly insulting me — a national star — on national TV and then went on break. I realised that superstars and foreigners are sitting and what image would be delivered so I asked Nauman to end the matter otherwise what you've done with me will go viral and there will be no solution to that."
The former fast bowler had further stated that he had asked the anchor to apologise to him but Niaz did not, which compelled him to leave the show.
"I tried my level best to repair the damage [in] the programme," Akhtar had added.
Commenting on the matter, Niaz had said Akhtar was a "star" who had brought accomplishments for the country.
"One side of the story always attracts, nonetheless having been friends for ages I’ll always wish him the best," he had added.