Will Najam Sethi replace Zaka Ashraf as PCB chief?

LAHORE: As a result of the ongoing political developments in the country, Zaka Ashraf, the recently-appointed Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Managing Committee chairman, is facing removal from his position, The News reported Thursday.

According to sources, the surprising move to replace Ashraf is directly linked to the recent shift of the Pakistani government to caretaker status — which occurred on August 9 — as the nation prepares for upcoming elections.

With reports of Ashraf’s potential removal, former defacto PCB Chairman Najam Sethi — who held the position until December 2022 — is believed to be a leading contender to reclaim the role. 

Sethi had voluntarily withdrawn from the chairmanship race earlier this year, showing deference to the dynamics between Asif Zardari and Shehbaz Sharif, two prominent political figures.

However, with the recent directive from the Pakistan Election Commission urging the withdrawal of political appointments, Sethi’s potential return to the PCB leadership has gained traction.

Historically, the position of PCB chairman has been influenced by political affiliations, often leading to changes in leadership based on shifts in the political landscape. 

Ashraf’s ascent to the role in July 2023, replacing Sethi, had marked a departure from this tradition. The Pakistan People’s Party’s demand for their nominee to assume the PCB chairman position had facilitated Ashraf’s appointment, disrupting Sethi’s seven-month tenure.

The Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) has reportedly communicated with the Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary, identifying Ashraf as a political appointee targeted for removal in line with the Election Commission’s directive. 

The aim is to ensure a level playing field for the electoral process and eliminate any potential biases stemming from political appointments.

Zaka’s impending exit from the PCB leadership, merely two months after his assumption of the role, has created uncertainty.

The dynamics surrounding this transition point toward a potential transformation in how the PCB chairman position is selected, indicating a potential move away from the traditional political appointment process.

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