Monthly Archives: February 2014

Sethi rejects TIP claim as “distortion” of facts

Muhammad Asif Khan

KARACHI: The chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Najam Sethi strongly refuted the claims made by the Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) about his ‘dual’ offices. “The PCB is not a government institution and I am not in the employment of the PCB, there is no contract, no salary hence I am not a public servant”, clarified Sethi, while talking to this correspondent for News One TV. Image

As per the news published in local press, the TIP, in a letter to the Ministry of Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC), claimed that the PCB chairman, being a public servant, could not work for a private company.

The letter further said a government servant could not work for any private commercial company, ‘that too which is doing business with the same department, the PCB in this case’

“The post of the PCB chairman is honourary, furthermore I am not an employee of the private commercial company [Geo or Jang]. My contract is for very specific services [TV shows and articles]”, said Najam Sethi, who took over as the head of PCB, after the dismissal of Zaka Ashraf earlier this month.

“I retain full rights to carry out all kinds of businesses outside the company that includes management of magazines and book publishing companies”, added Sethi

“The TIP claim is nothing but distortion of facts”, concluded Sethi

 

The writer is a sports journalist in Pakistan, heads the sports department at the News One TV & tweets @mak_asif

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The musical chair in PCB

By Muhammad Asif Khan

The latest incident in Pakistan Cricket is seen, by many, as the biggest jolt ever however the dismissal of an ‘elected’ chairman and the appointment of a ‘controversial’ figure should not be seen as an isolated event.

Najam Aziz Sethi, who was earlier the interim chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), has taken over from the first-ever elected chairman of the Board, Zaka Ashraf. Mr. Sethi and his Management Committee were mandated by the government of Pakistan to fix the PCB constitution before holding transparent elections.Image

What could be the repercussions of this move will be discussed later, but as I mentioned earlier, the action by the Patron-in-chief, who is the Prime Minister as well, shouldn’t be isolated.

When Ijaz Butt completed his 3-year term in 2011, Zaka Ashraf was appointed as the chairman, who later on drafted a constitution and got himself elected in May 2013, for the term of four years. At that point, the Government did not feel appalling; however, a few petitions were filed against the election.

Let me simplify the situation. At that time, the PCB – in view of it’s constitution – constituted a Board of Governors [BoG], excluding Karachi & Lahore, the biggest nurseries of Cricket in Pakistan, then the patron at that time – The president of Pakistan – nominated two candidates – Zaka Ashraf and former Lahore Stock Exchange chairman Aftab Ahmad Khan, who were interviewed by a PCB committee which unanimously recommended Mr. Ashraf for the chairman’s post. The same day the BoG endoursed the recommended nominee and Zaka Ashraf made history by getting elected for the first time.

The Government was unmoved however a few petitioners felt otherwise and approached the Islamabad and Sindh High Courts, where after months of hearing the Islamabad High Court, while sidelining Zaka Ashraf, ordered the government to appoint a suitable person to take charge and hold elections. The court also suggested that the new chairman must at least be a first-class cricketer.

Zaka Ashraf went into an appeal which resulted in his re-instatement in January this year, but the drama continued and the Government approached the apex court, only to withdrew the appeal which gave an impression that Zaka Ashraf was safe but in reality his days were numbered as the Supreme Court, on a query from the Government’s lawyer, directed the Government to exercise its constitutional right.

What constitutional right the Government had?

The Para 41 [of the previous PCB constitution] says

“The Patron, in the presence of sufficient evidence and being satisfied that grave financial irregularities exists in the Board and that the Board is dysfunctional, may by order in writing reasons, supersede the Board and appoint an interim committee consisting of an administrator and as many members as deemed necessary for carrying out the functions of the board:”

With this provision in the constitution, the patron could dismiss Zaka Ashraf however that wasn’t done and he carried out his duties as the chairman of the PCB.

The twist came on February 10th, 2014, when Zaka Ashraf was terminated by the Prime Minister (Patron) but prior to the dismissal the Para 41 was amended as follows

“When the Patron is of the opinion that the Board is unable to perform its functions properly in accordance with this constitution he may, by order in writing, supersede the Board and constitute a Management Committee comprising up to eleven members”

The question is that if Zaka Ashraf was incompetent then why was the constitution amended to get rid of him in the first place? The time to put a check on Zaka Ashraf was right after the elections he held in May 2013.

There is white-paper as well, which reportedly contains grave financial misconduct by Zaka Ashraf. If the paper is genuine then the old question arises again, why the constitution needed to be altered to dislodge Zaka Ashraf?

Zaka Ashraf got elected in an awkward fashion alright, but the way he was removed was doubly awkward rather dubious. In a nutshell, the latest chopping gave birth to a lot of ambiguities.

If the Government dismisses an official by mentioning reasons then it should also present the logic behind someone’s appointment as well, isn’t it?

It probably won’t be wrong to say that if Zaka Ashraf was the first-ever elected chief then Najam Sethi is the most controversial chairman in history. The controversy surrounds him isn’t my subject, but the Government must have looked into all the aspects before this ‘bold’ appointment.

Now the PCB is again in the hands of an interim set-up, which has vowed to fix the constitution first. My humble suggestion to them is to increase the sense of participation and don’t pick and choose amongst favourites. Include every association and department in one single committee to elect a chairman, amongst the regional officials. Transparency comes with accountability of every individual, including the chairman.  The role of the chairman should also be curtailed to make him a supervisor, not the one who pokes in every committee.

And why should we wait, for a new constitution, to hold people accountable? If the Government can check the ‘wrongdoings’ of the past chairman then they could/should check the ambiguities of the incumbent officials too.

A few days back, the PCB advertised the posts of team coaches. One of the mentioned eligibilities were having at least five years of working experience in their respective cricketing role with elite cricket teams and cricketing management. However, the track record of the appointed individuals doesn’t reflect this attribute. Also the post of ‘chief cricket consultant’ was not even advertised.

Later on the way a few former cricketers were humiliated by one of the PCB’s management committee members also went unnoticed.

Lastly, let’s try and figure out the repercussions. Recently at one of the ICC meetings, an attendee taunted the Pakistan board as inconsistent. Is the Pakistan Cricket Board actually inconsistent? No need to answer this query.

Similarly, how could the Big-three issue be tackled adequately in the future? If Zaka Ashraf ‘mishandled’ the case, then let’s hope Mr. Sethi would do wonders, but seemingly Pakistan doesn’t have an option left.

This move also suggests the ICC and its member countries that Pakistan Cricket Board wasn’t out of the Government interference as yet. How the apex body would react to this situation still remains to be seen, but if Pakistan wants to regain its stature in world cricket, it must put its own house in order, otherwise the taunts will keep coming.

Maladministration of Zaka Ashraf

1.    Initiation of a very ambitious project of constructing a cricket stadium with hotel/shopping Centre in Islamabad & spending of over Rs 35 million on it without following proper tendering process/PEPRA Rules. At these difficult times when no international team is prepared to visit Pakistan, there was no rational behind embarking upon such a project & spending huge amounts on it. Project lies abandoned now.

2.    Another ambitious project in the name of Pakistan Super League was launched & millions & millions of rupees were spent on it without proper homework and planning.  It was subsequently abandoned after spending Rs 40 million, most of which money went to foreign and local consultants who were hired without due diligence.

3.    Spending of Rs 7 million in one year on the rental of luxury vehicles both within and outside Pakistan for personal as well as for family/friends

4.    Match Tickets of Rs. 2.3 million were purchased for the Champions Trophy 2013 in England for personal, family and friend’s use. These tickets were used by him even when Islamabad High Court had restrained him from holding his office.

5.    Instead of having a lean & efficient organization, he focused on hiring more & more people while there was little cricketing activity in the country. He hired more than 112 people on personal whims as there was no real need for them. The cost of such additional staff was a whopping Rs 6 crores per year. Jobs were created on flimsy grounds without thinking about the existing organizational structure & factual needs. In most of the cases, prescribed procedures to fill a vacancy were not followed.

6.    Purchase of a Four Wheeler Toyota car for personal security staff worth Rs. 3 million.

7.    Unnecessary heavy amounts on Journalists travel & entertainment were spent amounting to over Rs. 10 million in 2012-13 for purposes of getting good personal media profile.

8. Personal expenditures on entertainment of friends and political associates, rent of luxury cars, phone bills, etc and amounted to Rs 10 million.

9. First class travel abroad for self and wife plus allowances amounted to Rs 20 million per year.

10. Appointed personal business tax consultants and lawyers in PCB at exorbitant rates.

11. Wasteful Expenditures on lavish receptions Rs11 million.

12. Spent Rs 6.4m on dinners and matches of British Army in Pindi

13. In the last ten days, he has arbitrarily hired, promoted, and transferred PCB staff without following Service Rules.

 

1. Failed to convince Bangladesh team to visit Pakistan

2. Failed to convince India to start bilateral cricket with Pakistan.

3. Failed to organise Pakistan Super League

4. Failed to root out corruption and favouritism in domestic cricket

5. Failed to obtain any ICC event for Pakistan in the next eight years.

6. Failed to retain long term sponsors and bring new ones.

7. Failed to establish rapport with Punjab and Federal Government because of PPP affiliations

8. Litigation against PCB increased manifold due to undue meddling in the affairs of clubs and associations in order to manipulate votes for elections of cronies to Board of Governors.

9. Failed to make alliance with South Africa and Sri Lanka against Big 3 in ICC meeting and ended up isolating Pakistan in international cricket.

10. Ran PCB as party-political patronage office and hired and fired staff on basis of personal loyalty instead of professionalism and efficiency.

ICC has lost the right to govern: ARIF ABBASI

Muhammad Asif Khan

KARACHI: Coming down hard on the International Cricket Council (ICC) after the controversial draft adoption, former chief executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Arif Ali Khan Abbasi felt that the apex body had lost the right of governance after “falling into a trap” setup by India, England and Australia – the big-three.  He feared further grouping amongst ICC members in the longer run. “Any orgnisation that is based on greed could not survive. The ICC president Alan Isaac encouraged the big-three to take over and by letting them to dominate, the ICC has actually lost the right of governance.” said Arif Abbasi while talking to this correspondent for News One TV.Image

“The affiliates & associates will suffer with the new regulations. This is against the charter of the ICC which advocates for the expansion of the game.” added Arif Abbasi

Earlier, the ICC passed a wide-ranging and controversial shake-up of its governance and structure that gave unprecedented powers to India, England and Australia – jointly known as the “Big-three”.

Arif Abbasi, while applauding Pakistan and Sri Lanka for their stance, said that even collectively the contribution to world cricket from the ‘so called’ big-three wasn’t at-par with Pakistan. “In terms of the on field performance, the big-three countries have been below-par lately, and what is their contribution to world cricket otherwise?  Pakistan introduced a lot of positive things to the cricket world. If they talk about the money, then I am afraid an organisation based on greed couldn’t survive”, mentioned Arif Abbasi, who held the post of the Chief Executive at BCCP [now PCB] between 1994 and 1996.

Commenting on the current state of affairs in the Pakistan Cricket Board, the former chief executive feared that the legal battles and the government interference could prove costly for the PCB. “Frequent chopping and changing is not in the interest of Pakistan cricket, it also sends adverse signals across. The Pakistan Cricket Board needs to put its house in order to regain the confidence of the cricketing world”, concluded Arif Abbasi

 

The writer is a Pakistani sports journalist, heads the sports department at News One TV & tweets @mak_asif

Main points of ICC revamp

Courtesy: AFP

The International Cricket Council approved the controversial resolution to change its governance, competition and financial models. The main points are as follows:Image

New executive committee:

  • A five-man executive committee with permanent seats for India, England and Australia will be introduced.
  • The committee will make recommendations to the ICC board, which remains the decision-making body

India’s Srinivasan to chair ICC board:

  • N. Srinivasan, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, will become the ICC board chairman from July 2014

New financial model:

  • Full members gain greater financial recognition based on their contributions in terms of finance, their ICC history and on-field performances

Test Cricket Fund:

  • A Test Cricket Fund will be introduced to guarantee all 10 Test-playing nations will be in position to host a home series through to 2023

Future Tours Programme:

  • Members will strike binding, bilateral agreements “as a matter of urgency” with the aim of extending the programme until 2023

World Test Championship axed:

  • The Champions Trophy one-day tournament will continue in 2017 and 2021, replacing plans for a World Test Championship

Pathway to Test cricket:

  • The winner of the next ICC Intercontinental Cup will play-off against the bottom-ranked full member with the prize of gaining Test status. The existing full member will retain Test status.

Big3 could face players’ revolt: RASHID LATIF

Muhammad Asif Khan

KARACHI: Former Pakistan captain, Rashid Latif has predicted an agitation from the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) and players, in the longer run, if the joint draft proposal from the Big3 – India, England and Australia – gets the required number of votes at the upcoming ICC meeting. “If the proposal is implemented, the three boards will get the larger share of revenue, therefore, in future, the players could ask for a raise as well. The role of FICA, in that situation, could not be neglected either”, said Rashid Latif, while talking to this correspondent, for News One TV. Image

“Unlike private clubs, national cricket boards like England, Australia and Indian could not sign legal contracts with their players”, added Latif

The cricket boards of England, India and Australia have drafted a proposal to revamp the financial and administrative structure of the ICC. Through, one of the main points of the proposal, the Big3 wants larger share in the ICC revenue. The draft proposal will be presented in the upcoming ICC meeting in Singapore for voting.

Citing the example of the leading football clubs, the former wicket-keeper batsman said that Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United buy players for millions of dollars; hence they push broadcasters for more money in return. “These football clubs earn a lot and in return pay huge salaries to their players and that too on weekly basis. The player’s wage is propositional to his value. Last year Real Madrid bought Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur for $100 million and paying him $180K per week. Likewise, Christiano Ronaldo is getting more than Bale and Messi because he is more valued”, mentioned Latif

On the other hand, cricketers are paid relatively much lesser monthly wages, so in this situation, I am sensing a revolt from players if they will not be financially benefited like the Big3 boards”, concluded Latif

 

 

The writer is a Pakistani sports journalist, heads the sports department at News One TV & tweets @mak_asif