Cricket board doesn’t have much to hope for
Ali Raza's impending appointment as PCB chairman has created more chatter than the all parties conference.
Even a city as politically-minded as Islamabad can occasionally bring itself to think about something, like the vexing question of who, if anyone, will be the next chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board. Since the most likely nominee, according to many in the city, combines political clout with corruption cases and absolutely no background in cricket, his impending appointment created more chatter than even the all parties conference.
After years of pleas by cricket fans across the country, it seems like President Asif Ali Zardari will finally replace the much-maligned Ijaz Butt with the even more controversial Ali Raza. Raza served as president of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) for over 10 years, a record tenure that is unlikely to ever be beaten for the simple fact that holding the post for that long has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
The only hitch in the appointment, a Karachi-based industrialist who is close to Raza said, is that he has not managed to shake off one of his myriad legal problems. The Supreme Court is still hearing a case where Raza is one of many NBP executives accused of inappropriately awarding themselves money from the National Bank Employees Welfare Fund. Lawyers for Raza could not be reached for comment while a couple of others who are accused said they could not remark on a case that was still being heard.
Previously, Raza had been removed from his post as president by the Supreme Court soon after being appointed to a fourth term. Such is Raza’s ability to charm those in power that he was able to span the administrations of both Musharraf, where he had reportedly wooed Shaukat Aziz, and Zardari. Even after he was forced to step down as president, Raza managed to get back into the NBP fold as chairman of the board of directors.
All Parties Conference
The all parties conference (APC) may have been hosted by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani but the star attraction was Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. One attendee at the conference said that the army chief must have collected over two dozen business cards from politicians who otherwise would never have had an opportunity to meet Kayani. Sarwar Ejaz Qadri of the Sunni Tehreek, said the attendee, practically had to be escorted away from Kayani as he was taking up too much of his time.
Coincidentally, Kayani was put in the uncomfortable position of being seated next to Mahmood Khan Achakzai of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, who denounced the ISI and the military for their role in Afghanistan.
Behind-the-scene tensions brewed between Gilani and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. Khar had prepared a speech in English but Gilani tried at the last moment to convince her to speak in Urdu. Khar, who had stumbled over the few lines of Urdu that were included in a speech she recently gave at the United Nations General Assembly, demurred. An official at the foreign office, however, denied this saying that while Khar is more fluent in English, Gilani did not ask her to change her speech.