ISLAMABAD: The management of Pakistan Television on Thursday barred former Test cricketer Shoaib Akhtar and host Dr Nauman Niaz from all its programmes until the submission of a final inquiry report into an episode earlier this week during which the speedster quit a live show after complaining that the anchor had insulted him.

A four-member inquiry committee grilled Dr Niaz, who heads the PTV’s sports division, for several hours on Wednesday and decided to call Shoaib Akhtar to hear his version. But the pace bowling legend, according to sources, refused to appear before the committee, insisting that it could make a decision after just watching the Tuesday night show’s footage.

In a tweet on Thursday night, Akhtar rejected the PTV management’s decision. “Well thats hilarious. I resigned in front of 220 million Pakistani & billions across the world. Is PTV crazy or what? Who are they to off air me?” he said.

The committee comprises Aamir Manzoor, Pakistan Television’s Managing Director; Tahir Mushtaq, the chief of its human resources division; Arif Mehmood, Director of News; and Akbar Malik, Director of Programmes.

Ex-cricketer mocks decision, says he already quit the show

Akhtar and Dr Niaz were part of a panel which was conducting a post-match analysis of Pakistan’s game against New Zealand at the World Cup on Tuesday.

At one point Akhtar credited the PSL’s Lahore Qalandars with the discovery of pacers Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf. This, inexplicably, enraged Dr Niaz, prompting him to tell Akhtar bluntly: “You are being rude and I don’t want to say this, but if you are being over-smart, you can go. I am saying this on air.”

Akhtar immediately declared he was quitting the show, saying that “I cannot take an insult like this lying down”. Dr Niaz, however, seemed unperturbed and went ahead with the show as if nothing had happened.

Other panelists were celebrities like Sir Vivian Richards of the West Indies and David Gower of England, former Pakistan players Umar Gul, Rashid Latif and Azhar Mahmood, as well as Sana Mir, an ex-captain of the women’s team. The inquiry committee put several questions to Dr Niaz about the events that took place before the unfortunate incident that saw him telling Akhtar to leave the show.

The committee will now record statements of those officials of the sports division who were on duty that night.

Published in Dawn, October 29th, 2021

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