Retired all-rounder Shahid Afridi returned home to a rapturous welcome at Karachi airport with the crowd backing the former captain’s stance against the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
With thousands gathering at Jinnah terminal, Afridi was ushered out by security personnel and went home without speaking to either the fans or the gathered media.
Prior to his arrival, billboards and banners were seen in the city, urging the public to welcome the ‘national hero’ at the airport. Afridi arrived from England where he was due to represent Hampshire in the Twenty20 competition, an NOC for which was revoked by the PCB following the all-rounder’s retirement and the harsh words spoken.
Afridi is due to face a PCB disciplinary committee on Wednesday but his lawyer has shown reservation over the ‘closed hearing’, arguing against the transparency of the three-man committee and that the case has already been decided by the board.
Butt blasts Akram
Meanwhile, the PCB chairman blasted former captain Wasim Akram for ‘interfering’ in the board’s affair and asking it to reveal the decisions behind Afridi’s sacking as captain.
Akram had blamed Afridi and the PCB for their part in the ongoing tussle and said the board was wrong to sack the all-rounder without giving its reasons behind the decision.
“Akram preferred to coach the Indians and refused to coach the Pakistan team,” said Butt while speaking to Express News. “Why should he then make statements about Pakistan cricket? He also has a match-fixing related history and he should look at his own character before meddling in our work.”
Political interference rued
The PCB chairman also rued the political interference in the case, even issuing a press release which describes the tussle as an ‘internal disciplinary action’.
“It is disappointing that despite Afridi pleading guilty to the offenses, some political functionaries are extending their support with a view to influencing the disciplinary process being followed by the PCB,” said Butt in the press release. “An understanding needs to be developed that no one is above the law and that for maintaining discipline within the team, it is absolutely imperative that we carry out this process without any fear or favour.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2011.
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