Zaka Ashraf Pakistan’s Ministry of IPC Requests the ‘Immediate Removal of Services’ for All Institution Heads Appointed on a Political Basis.
Recent political developments could once again have repercussions within the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) following an action by Pakistan’s Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) ministry. The ministry communicated with the Prime Minister’s office, drawing attention to the future of Zaka Ashraf, the head of PCB.
The communication cited guidelines issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan, which called for the immediate removal of institution heads appointed based on political considerations. The cases of such terminations are to be referred to the commission for approval. Zaka Ashraf’s case was singled out as the initial consideration, labeling him as a political appointee affiliated with the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
The letter, dated August 15 and signed by IPC secretary Ahmed Orakzai, was directed to the caretaker government. However, it only surfaced a week later. The caretaker Prime Minister, Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar, assumed office the day before the letter was written. Notably, the IPC ministry, responsible for the letter, currently lacks a sitting minister. In such instances, the Prime Minister temporarily oversees the ministry, effectively making Kakar both the issuer and recipient of the communication.
Historically, caretaker governments in Pakistan have refrained from meddling in PCB affairs. Yet, this time circumstances might differ. While the primary role of caretaker governments is to facilitate elections within 90 days, the Election Commission of Pakistan announced a postponement of scheduled elections from November onwards shortly after the new caretaker government was established. This change in timeline could empower the current caretaker government to make decisions on a broader range of matters beyond election preparations as well for Zaka Ashraf.
Despite the issuance of the communication a week prior, its significant impact has not yet reverberated through the PCB. PCB officials remain confident in Ashraf’s continued role. Insider sources also suggest that the government assured the current PCB administration that no changes at the helm were being contemplated. A PCB insider criticized what they perceived as an unjust “campaign against the PCB’s head,” deeming it a malicious attempt to destabilize Pakistan’s cricketing landscape.
It’s worth noting that Ashraf severed ties with the PPP on June 19, which challenges his classification as a political appointee. Additionally, the PCB has never been involved in Pakistan’s national or federal elections, diminishing the caretaker government’s rationale for intervening in the board’s affairs.
Ashraf initially assumed leadership of a management committee at PCB for a four-month term in July, following the resignation of Najam Sethi from the role. This move held political significance, as Sethi highlighted his intention to prevent strain between PML(N) leader Shahbaz Sharif and PPP leader Asif Zardari. The latter favored Ashraf over Sethi as PCB head.
Within the coalition of these parties, the PPP government, led by Zardari, held the sports ministry, justifying their authority to appoint a PCB head of their choice. Ashraf took over as PCB head two weeks after these events unfolded.