Imran Khan backs ICC ban on government meddling

Khan said the amendment will help Pakistan as in the current set-up there is no transparency and accountability.

KARACHI: Pakistan’s legendary former captain Imran Khan on Thursday welcomed a decision from cricket’s governing body to ban political appointments, calling for a total revamp of the national board.

The ICC executive board on Thursday gave cricket boards 12 months to implement free elections and another 12-month grace period to enact the changes before any sanctions would be considered.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), whose chairman Ijaz Butt was appointed by the president, was not immediately reachable for comment but it has threatened legal action in the past if the constitution is changed.

Khan told AFP that the PCB now had a chance to become a real institution if the system was overhauled.

“The amendment will help Pakistan as there is no transparency and accountability in the current set-up,” Khan told AFP.

“But to gain full benefit, Pakistan must fix the cricket structure with a new constitution on regional grounds where officials are elected.”

Khan said the changes could allow Pakistan to perform better.

“If we have our cricket structure right, Pakistan has more talent than anywhere in the world, and we will dominate the world,” said Khan, who led Pakistan to their only World Cup title in 1992.

Former PCB chairman Arif Abassi said reform had long been needed.

“I resigned in 1996 because there was uncalled for government interference when I wanted to make the PCB a private company with shares,” said Abassi.

Abassi said the ICC was after Pakistan after a slew of public irregularities and said: “It’s now time we find the right people to overhaul our system and who know how to do it,” he said.

But fellow former PCB chief Khalid Mahmood rejected the ICC imposition as a violation of Pakistan’s independence.

“The ICC has no business to tell us how to run our cricket,” said Mahmood, calling for legal action if necessary.

“We must resist on this and although legal action is the last resort, one has to back it because we have to draw a line on sovereignty,” said Mahmood.

Former spinner Iqbal Qasim thought Pakistan would have trouble in enacting the change.

“While other Boards like England and Australia have a proper system, Pakistan will face some problems in implementing the change and they will need to overhaul the system from grass-root level,” said Qasim.

“We need to think out a proper plan, be it with the government’s help, to implement the change in two years.”

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are also directly affected by the amendment as their cricketing affairs are similarly run on government directives.

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