Maneuvering the change

July 27, 2014

They say it isn’t over until the fat lady sings. When it comes to messing with the PCB, she has been backstage ever since the ad-hoc years

Maneuvering the change

They say it isn’t over until the fat lady sings. When it comes to messing with the PCB, she has been backstage ever since the ad-hoc years and despite every sign and promises to the audience she still hasn’t come made her appearance.

The positives are of course there in every move and in every change. The governing board has rightly been given more powers, including the selection of the chairman who has been made more accountable now to the Board of Governors.

It is also very heartening to note that the Chief Financial Officer will report to the Board of Governors. That is the norm in well managed organisations where the Chief Internal Auditor also reports to the board so that even the chief executive (in this case chairman) can be investigated.

Nevertheless the chairman has retained almost all the crucial decision making power of choosing the selection committee, the captain and vice captain and have a final say in the team submitted by selectors.

Najam Sethi has done the honourable thing and stepped down and promised not to run for chairmanship but will stay in the board.  A new constitution, or should I say another new constitution, has been approved (by whom is a matter of conjecture, as is its legal standing). If you don’t believe me wait till the power changes at the top as well as the chairman. At most you won’t need a new board of governors; this one will simply change their opinions and we’ll see another new constitution. Every constitution has a life only till the patron is in power since it has been made to suit the desired scenario.

The process looks good upfront but it has to be emphasized that it is not a democratic system no matter how much the word is bandied about in talk shows, interviews and press conferences.  Firstly, in a democratic system there cannot be a patron who has the power to remove the chairman, as is allowed in this constitution. For this to happen there of course has to be transgression of desired role of chairman, but these can always be manipulated against the individual. This would lead to forced resignation/removal. After all who would want to contest the Prime Minister one-on-one in court?

So you can see where the power rests. Laughable considering the Prime Minster has termed Article 582b as the scourge of democracy.

I also can’t get why the top four (in terms of standing in last year’s Quaid-e-Azam trophy) regional associations get to be in the first term of three years. It really should have been one from each province. For the first term, the four regions will be Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. This means that KP and Balochistan will not be represented at all for three years.

Najam Sethi has announced himself as one of two representatives of the PM in the 10-man committee. This means only one of the two provinces can be represented if the PM were to fill the other slot from one of these provinces. This too will defeat the purpose since the man will be handpicked by the PM and he will not be selecting anyone that creates even legitimate noise in the meetings. A better and saner way would have been to pick one representative from each province and fill the Azad Jammu & Kashmir representation though one of his two nominations in the governing board. In fact the representation of departments could have been restricted to three if the PM still wanted to have no compulsions in picking one or both. In other words the representation of the country has been decided on how the teams did last season. Can’t remember when the different parts of any country were hostage to their team’s performance to get into a national representation board.

On to departments that finished in the top four last season, we can see that three of the four are government-controlled. These three are National Bank, WAPDA and SNGPL. They will not vote against government policy on any issue. And since they are appointed with the blessings of the PM, will not be going against his wishes. Only UBL, which topped the President’s Cup is private to some extent, as government still holds significant shares in the bank. So that means the government already has five votes out of ten in its pocket indicating that the chairman will be appointed by the PM’s wishes. This also means that the casting vote will go with the government-inclined members. Not that the other five will be taking up any confrontations on issues of principles. Regional heads of Islamabad and Rawalpindi are already on the majority’s panel. And the other two will know the odds, and will not be making much noise. The scenario is much like what the Big Three manipulated in ICC, against which PCB took a stand initially. Now it seems they have applied the same politics to take control of cricket in Pakistan.

This was pointed out to current chairman Najam Sethi, but he defended the other board members by saying they were all respectable men of their own minds and are not pushovers to the whims of the chairman or government pressure. On paper that is correct. But from what we have seen of how the heads of political parties run their cabinets in Pakistan, all I can say is that if elected members of parliament have to bow down to what the top man wants, what can we expect from nominated government representatives who will either be bureaucrats or senior executives with their positions on line?

This state of affairs is not just for now but for three years. Enough time to wield power that is not distributed evenly and to handpick committees to achieve personal agendas. This will be denied of course and naysayers will be mocked as defeatists and pessimists. I can say here out of respect for some good names in the governing board that good things will also happen. But it has to be said that the PCB Board has been taken over rather than elected; no matter what the paperwork claims.

Maneuvering the change