Zaka Ashraf and Najam Sethi are once again preparing to vie for the leadership of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

The PCB leadership may change soon as the management committee, headed by Najam Sethi, enters the final two weeks of its tenure. Zaka Ashraf, a former board chairman and longstanding rival of Sethi, is emerging as the leading contender to replace him. On June 7, Sethi met with Pakistan’s prime minister, Shahbaz Sharif, at his residence in Islamabad to provide an update on the PCB’s progress over the past five months.

Meanwhile, Ashraf held a meeting with the federal minister for inter-provincial coordination (IPC), Ehsan ur Rehman Mazari, who serves as a link between the PCB and the government. As the IPC ministry handles sports affairs in Pakistan, Mazari confirmed that Zaka Ashraf was being nominated to assume the helm of the PCB.

Sethi and Ashraf have a history of competing for the PCB leadership, with their previous battle spanning from 2013 to 2014. The matter was eventually resolved when former prime minister Nawaz Sharif removed Ashraf and appointed Sethi. Presently, Sethi is supported by the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) party, while Ashraf enjoys the backing of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Both parties are part of the coalition that forms the government of Pakistan.

A fiery contest for PCB leadership:

On Wednesday, Ehsan ur Rehman Mazari, the federal minister for inter-provincial coordination (IPC), highlighted that the formation of the government involved an agreement that parties within the coalition would have a say in appointing individuals for relevant positions.

As the IPC ministry belongs to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Mazari stated that they would have their candidate for the role of the chairman of the PCB. He also expressed concerns over Najam Sethi’s nomination for the full term, pointing out a conflict of interest as Sethi is leading the management committee responsible for conducting the elections, which could potentially influence the election process.

Since December of last year, Sethi’s management committee has been overseeing the PCB following the removal of Ramiz Raja as chairman and the scrapping of the board’s 2019 constitution. Initially given 120 days, Sethi’s committee was tasked with reinstating the 2014 version of the PCB constitution and reintroducing the regional and services structure in domestic cricket. Additionally, the committee was responsible for forming a board of governors and conducting the election of a new chairman.

ICC delegation to visit Pakistan

Over the past four months, Najam Sethi played a crucial role in recruiting a coaching staff mainly consisting of overseas members for Pakistan, including the appointment of Mickey Arthur as the part-time director of cricket. Sethi’s management committee received a two-month extension to fulfil its responsibilities, which is set to conclude on June 22.

One of the committee’s primary tasks was to conduct elections in all of Pakistan’s provinces. This required the formation of a board of governors consisting of ten members: four regional representatives out of the total 16, four representatives from services organizations, and two members directly nominated by the PCB patron, who is the prime minister.

The term for each BoG member spans three years, which aligns with the tenure of the PCB chairman. The management committee faced legal complications in the final stages of the election process when multiple regional clubs raised concerns about the fairness of the elections. Tanvir Ahmed, elected as the president of the Larkana region, Gul Zada from the Peshawar region, and Shakil Sheikh, a candidate in Islamabad, who were working from the PCB headquarters, became central figures in the issue. Once the board of governors is established, the prime minister will exercise his discretion to nominate two individuals, and through an electoral process within the board, one of them will be appointed as the PCB chairman.

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