Senate committee asks for Butt's resignation

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board Ijaz Butt failed to come out with appropriate responses to a number of tough questions fired at him by a 12-member Senate's sports committee at the Parliament House on Monday.

The six-hour long, high-voltage meeting that began with intentions to probe into the national cricket affairs ended with calls for Butt's resignation.

"It is crystal clear that Mr Butt and his team are incapable of running the Board which is why I've asked them to resign for the sake of Pakistan cricket,"
Senator Enver Baig told media after the meeting.

Baig said that he urged Butt to quit as PCB chairman after he failed to come clear on the Javed Miandad controversy and again when he denied writing a letter to the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) to advise him against launching an audit into PCB accounts.

The PCB also drew flak over its controversial hiring and firing policies while the Senators raised suspicions of foul-play in Pakistan's humiliating 234-run defeat in their ODI series finale against Sri Lanka in Lahore last month.

Senator Tahir Mashhadi, another committee member, said that he and fellow Senators were highly disappointed at PCB management's lack of vision.

Butt attracted scathing criticism after it became apparent that he had blocked an attempt by the AGP to carry out an audit into the Board's accounts last November soon after taking over as PCB chief.

"I told Mr Butt that he talks about transparency in financial matters but in the meantime is against any public audit of the PCB accounts,"
said Baig.
"I asked him whether he wrote a letter to the AGP, advising him not to carry out an audit. But he (Butt) claimed he never wrote any such letter. It was a lie because he did write a letter and we (the committee) had copies of it,"
he added.

In the letter, Butt wrote to AGP Tanvir Ali Agha on November 10
"while I am in favour of a special audit so as to ensure transparency... our legal advisor at the PCB has raised a legal objection in relation to the conduct of the special audit".

Mashhadi, meanwhile, emphasised that the PCB chief was also unconvincing while defending his role in the Miandad issue.

Miandad, the former Pakistan captain, stepped down as PCB Director General last month saying that he was not happy with the Board decision to offer him a contract with curtailed authority.

"The PCB chairman was unable to explain to us the reasons why Miandad worked for the PCB without signing a contract for over two months. He was unable to explain why the Board tried to curtail Miandad's role,"
said Mashhadi.

Mashhadi said that when Miandad was appointed as DG, the Board issued a circular on December 4, 2008 in which it was clearly stated that a number of senior officials including Director Game Development, Director International Cricket, Director Domestic, chief selector and Pakistan coach will report to him.

But Mashhadi added that, in the contract offered to Miandad on January 27, his role was restricted to domestic development and "co-ordination with the local authorities in south (Sindh)".

"All 12 members of the committee rejected the Board's contention that Miandad should be equally blamed for the fiasco,"
said Mashhadi.
"We believe that Miandad who is a national hero was treated shabbily by the Board. We have asked the PCB chairman to sit down with Miandad and sort out the issue,"
he added.

Senator Haroon Khan, another committee member, rejected the PCB management's claim that the Board is heading towards bankruptcy.

"At the previous meeting, the Board officials told us that they just have Rs 1.5 billion in the PCB accounts and that it could get bankrupt in six months,"
said Haroon.
"It was a false figure because according to a latest statement submitted by them, the Board has Rs 2.7 billion in its accounts."

Haroon also raised a question mark over PCB's claims that a controversial development project at Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium will cost a whopping Rs 470 million because of malpractices by the previous Board management.

"We had summoned the contractor and consultant of the Gaddafi Stadium project today,"
said Haroon.
"They told us that the project will cost Rs 310 million and Rs 470 million was estimated by the Board people."

When grilled on Pakistan's poor showing in the ODI series against Sri Lanka, the coach and chief selector said that they had started their tenures just three months back and needed more time to bring about an improvement in the team's performance.

The Senators also disputed PCB's claim that all-rounder Shoaib Malik had stepped down after the ODI series loss.

"In their report submitted to the PCB, the team coach and manager had recommended that Malik be sacked and Younis (Khan) be appointed as new captain,"
said Baig.
"The press reports we have been reading also say that Malik was sacked but the Board claims that the player had stepped down himself."

Meanwhile, the committee has asked the Board to rethink its hiring and firing policies. The committee also asked the Board to consider rehiring dozens of low-income employees which it fired without following any proper procedure.

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