'Utter disappointment': Shoaib Akhtar vows to fight legal battle after PTV sends recovery notice

Published November 8, 2021
— Photo courtesy: Shoaib Akhtar's YouTube video/File
— Photo courtesy: Shoaib Akhtar's YouTube video/File

Former fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar vowed on Sunday that he "will not give up and fight this legal battle" after the Pakistan Television Corporation (PTVC) sent him a recovery notice asking him to pay Rs100 million in damages and reimburse three months' salary for violating clauses of their contract.

According to the recovery notice sent to Akhtar, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the PTVC stated that it had been fulfilling its side of the commitments made in an agreement with the former cricketer in January 2019. However, Akhtar's "conduct towards official requirements according to the binding clauses of referred agreement has not only been observed as casual, but a total violation of the agreement," it added.

The notice stated that Akhtar had agreed to "remain associated exclusively with PTV Sports and not appear or engage with any other television network within the Pakistan territory".

According to the notice, Akhtar violated the agreement by appearing on two shows — one on ARY News and the other on Geo News — after not appearing on PTV citing health issues.

In addition, Akhtar continued to demand enhancement in his monthly income up to Rs1.8m, the notice stated.

Referring to the former cricketer's spat with the then PTV host Dr Nauman Niaz in which Akhtar had announced his resignation on air and walked off the show, the notice said Akhtar had violated the terms of the agreement by not submitting a written notice three months prior. The move had also caused "huge financial losses to PTV", it added.

Akhtar had also left for the T20 World Cup being held in the UAE without informing the management of PTV Sports and appeared on a show with former Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh which caused "irreparable losses to PTV".

The notice stated that according to the agreement, Akhtar was bound to appear on PTV's World Cup transmission "Game On Hai" which started on Oct 17. However, he had only made two out of 36 required appearances so far.

"Due to your above stated acts and conducts, PTV has suffered a lot and sustained huge financial losses on account of losses of sponsorship, erosion of organisation's reputation etc."

The notice directed Akhtar to pay Rs100m in damages as well as Rs3,333,000 — amounting to three months' salary — otherwise PTVC reserved its rights to file a suit against him.

In a tweet on Sunday night, Akhtar said he was "utterly disappointed" by the notice.

Referring to the row between him and Dr Niaz, the former cricketer said: "After miserably failing to safeguard my respect & repute while I was working for PTV, they have now sent me a Recovery Notice."

He vowed to continue the legal fight, adding that his lawyer Salman Khan Niazi would take the matter forward in accordance with the law.

Spat with anchor

The star pacer and Dr Niaz were part of a panel for PTV Sports programme "Game On Hai" on Oct 27 along with guests the likes of 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. The panel was discussing the Pakistan-New Zealand T20 World Cup match which Pakistan won by five wickets.

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 took 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 resumed after a break, Akhtar apologised to the guests on the panel and announced his resignation from PTV, saying that he could not continue with the programme because of "how I was treated on national television".

Later, the PTV launched an inquiry into the spat and took Dr Niaz and Akhtar off-air until completion of the probe.

Dr Niaz tendered an "unconditional apology" to Akhtar last week.

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