Zaka Ashraf: From farmer to PCB chairman

Published: October 12, 2011

Zaka is President of Zarai Taraqiyati Bank and decision of his appointment was made in meeting with President Zardari. PHOTO: EXPRESS

The much awaited, controversial and politically influenced post of Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board has finally been filled. Ladies and gentleman, put your hands together for Mr Zaka Ashraf, a man who has had absolutely nothing to do with cricket!

Nice job Mr President – out of the multiple candidates presented to you, you have successfully chosen the worst one.

Having said so, lets look back on Butt’s tenure as the chairman of the PCB to gauge whether Pakistani cricket can, indeed, fall lower than it already has.

The damage done

Ijaz Butt has faced a great amount of criticism based on his decision making and his leadership. Tme and time again he has been incapable of controlling cricketing affairs. An apt example of this would be the disastrous and shameful attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009. Moreover, the biggest mishap in the history of Pakistan cricket occurred during his tenure -the spot fixing scandal in 2010 in England has brought a tremendous amount of shame to our country. In addition to this six captains were changed, numerous selectors were tried and coaches and managers struggled to find consistency in their service all under the watchful eye of Ijaz Butt. Yes, Pakistan did win the T20 World Cup and they did reach the semi finals of the World Cup during his reign.

Now, in steps Zaka Ashraf and one is left wondering whether we were better off under Ijaz Butt.

The new man

It has been proven that being the friend of a president is always lucrative. Zaka Ashraf is a living, breathing example.

Moving from managing family farms and sugar mills to becoming the chairman of an agricultural bank ZTBL definitely makes sense. However, when one moves from farming to sports, something doesn’t seem quite right.

Zaka Ashraf has never been part of the cricketing world. Thus the announcement of him, of all people, becoming chairman of the PCB is horrifying news to professionals and everyone associated with the cricket. Ijaz Butt, in this case, was a better candidate as he at least played 8 cricket matches. Zaka, on the other hand, does not even meet this meager standard of experience – he has no reason to be the chairman of PCB. Granted, Mr Ashraf has been a great businessman and has handled his business affairs with grace.

However, is this a reason enough to make him Chairman of the PCB?

Left behind again

Zaheer Abbas should have been the logical choice. He has plenty of experience given that he has played 78 Test matches, 62 ODIs, 459 first class, and 323 List A matches. Moreover, he even showed interest in the post. However, he lacked the most important qualification – connections.

I believe that Zaka Ashraf could have hardly watched a cricket match with the keen interest of someone with 42 years of experience.

However, when appointed Ashraf stated:

“I’ll work day and night to live up to the president’s expectations and pay back the confidence he’s placed in me.”

He also added that he would select players on merit and try to improve relations with international boards. With these words, let us indeed hope that he can lift Pakistani cricket out of the ashes of humiliation; let us hope that Pakistani cricket does not ever witness a tenure worse than Ijaz Butt’s.


Do you approve or disapprove of Zaka Ashraf's appointment as PCB chairman?

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Raja Yousuf

An MBA graduate and a cricket Fanatic

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Word Life

    *“I’ll work day and night to live up to the president’s expectations and pay back the confidence he’s placed in me.”*

    Just like Ijaz Butt (who was appointed by the same President) ?Recommend

  • Orient Knave

    huh! I wonder on what basis he is awarded this post….. Recommend

  • http://www. afia

    Will someone please tell him that selecting players is NOT part of his job description! The Selection committee is supposed to do that! Uffff these Ifs and Butts of cricket!Recommend

  • Adeel

    Brother check the back ground of Chief Executives of other countries..none of them came from cricketing backgrounds…this is a management position. May be they can have an ex cricketer as COORecommend

  • Tipu

    He would grow rice and wheat in cricket fields as there is no international cricket in Pakistan, seems good idea though !!!!!!!!!!!Recommend

  • Omer Manzoor Malik

    A good and well articulated thought process by the writer. Indeed, a very strange decision by the President once again, by appointing a farmer to the sports field. Let us hope now, the mattes are not further spoiled by the incompetent bosses.Recommend

  • Ammad Hafeez

    If Afridi comes back, i’ll approve himRecommend

  •​talha37 Talha Bhaii

    I’m sorry but i doesn’t agree with your article, he has been a chairman of ZBTL, that has its own cricket team, playing in pakistani domestic circuits, so thats not fair to the person to say tht he doesnt have any cricket management expirecene, Plus i agree with few people here that many of the boards around the world doesnt have CRICKETING chairman, lets take IPL for example, VIJAY MALIYA, SHARUKH KHAN, PRETY ZINTA, they arent cricketers but they own their franchise. SO now just be optimistic about this new chairman and hope that he do well.Recommend

  • waseem

    @Ammad Hafeez:
    No please no.. if Afridi stays out, along with imran farhat and akmal bros i will approve him.. but no afridi.. if it wasn’t for pakistan, afridi wouldn’t be playing international cricket at all.. well may be for bangladesh but not for any top 4 countries.. Cricket is not a sport of power and force but it also wants you to use your brain and tactics which afridi lacks big time.. so please no afridi ever..Recommend

  • Irshad baig

    A good cricketer definitely does not mean a good manager. A position like this one shall only be given to experts who have experience in Management rather than cricketers. This man seems to be a hardworking person because how many people have you seen who have evolved from a farmer and became chairman of a bank. Well, we can’t judge the decision right now as Mr. Zaka has not yet joined PCB as a chairman. Recommend

  • Dr. Ali Ahmed

    i strongly believe the head of the board shoudln’t be a cricketer rather a very professional who can run the organization in a very very professional manner.Recommend

  • Vaqas Asghar

    Good case Raja Yousuf, and just to add, you missed the fact that Ashraf is under investigation for corruption and embezzlement during his tenure at ZTBL (at least Rs125 million is in question, with more likely to show up if the government doesn’t block the investigation) and his appointment to the ZTBL post itself was declared illegal by the State Bank and the Lahore High Court.

    @Talha Bhaii: the people you mentioned own teams. the teams are run by career sportsmen. This is similar to most club sports, where Manchester City for example, is owned by an Arab prince. However, it is run by career football administrators who understand the game and the backroom intricacies, and have used finances and their own experience to make the team a success.
    At national level, administrators everywhere have sporting backgrounds far beyond watching the game on TV or playing street cricket. Zaka did not even know that Fazal Mehmood, Pakistan’s second captain after Kardar, was obviously captain before Imtiaz Ahmed (Imti was only captain for one series in his career).
    Running ZTBL, whether the corruption allegations are true or not, does not qualify him for this job. A former cricket administrator or player with at least some admin experience should always be the only option for the chairmanship. ZED, in spite of his lack of admin experience, would have the respect of players and administrators worldwide, as opposed to this guy, who doesn’t even have the respect or loyalty of his own subordinates (who ‘revealed’ his corruption).Recommend

  • Mohsin

    Zaka was Zardari’s class fellow in Cadet College Pataro. It always pay to be a class fellow or prison fellow of Zardari. As ICC ruled, these positions should not be political appointees. I hope despite all that he will deliver. Recommend

  • naeem

    The right man for the job should have been Majid Khan.
    He is respected world- wide.
    But with Zardari in charge of the choice that could never ever have happened.
    We have corrupt money worshipping leaders and that has led to our cricket players following the same example.
    You cant blame Salman Butt he is only following in the footsteps of the Zardaris and the Shariffs.
    Soon 2013 will be here and Pakistan will have to abide by the ICC rules on head of cricket board choice procedures.
    I pray and hope that Majid Khan will still be available.
    I also pray as do all descent Pakistani living in UK and having to live with the shame of our leaders and cricketers that by then Allah has taken mercy on Pakistan and rid us of the likes of the Zardaris, Bhuttos, and Shariffs.Recommend

  •!/hamza101 hamza

    Ohh Come On Dude don’t be so harsh to him… He looks like just a kid on the camera look at his expressions as if he is going to be a super star just like Justin Beiber in few days…But Still He looks like more Decent Guy then the previous one too me… bcuz i heard somewhere that the only bank which was not being corrupted in Pakistan is only Agricultural Bank and regarding this i am hoping some better results..

    And u said he has nothing to do with cricket, hey wait have you seen that image in 29 Nov’s Newspaper that a beggar was listening India Pakistan Semi Final on the radio OMG just look at him how hard he was trying to understand what commentator is saying, believe me i did not understand that time what he will get from that match… he should have earn something to eat for the night but this shows that how much we are attached with cricket xD I think Mr. President is somehow following American Ministries Culture i don’t know abt the exact name.. Less Creepy Stuff In Ministries, Less Bargaining in corruption..Recommend

  • Anum

    The reason he has been appointed is pretty clear. he is a friend of zardari. period.Recommend

  • Asad

    I disagree anyone who is appointed from a cricketing background will get steeped into controversy because someone in the team will not get along with him/her. There is too much baggage when you get former cricketers as the heads of boards.

    The other good thing is that at least now we have some consistency, the PCB chairman left after his tenure expired and no one played musical chairs with his post.Recommend

  • JD

    If we are lucky, he would be unfaithful to Zardari :)Recommend

  • Bakar

    So the gist of your argument is if you are a business student you shouldn’t be writing on cricket?Recommend

  • Liaqat Ali

    “Yaaran da yaar”, if nothing else our esteemed President is proving that to be true of him. Pakistan cricket will prosper despite not because of this appointment. It is high time we had an honest professional with good cricketing credentials and solid administrative experience at the helm. As for Mr. Afridi and his ilk when will people learn that he needs to stay out of the national team as all he will do is disrupt and destroy. Was he not the Test captain at the time of our disaster in England and did he not abdicate his responsibilities at the time? One more suggestion is to have the Akmal brothers and Wahab Riaz go through the same sort of stringent scrutiny as Danish Kaneria is having to endure for his suspected involvement in match fixing. That may weaken the Pakistani attack but will prove to everyone; not least the players that the PCB is serious and means business and will not tolerate under-handed dealings by sportsmen chosen to represent the nation.Recommend

  • Atif_Malik

    I heard him giving interview on a news channel and to be honest i am not convinced that he is a right choice for this post.It seems,another internee has been placed to run the affairs of another important institution. Recommend

  • M. Shariq Jamal

    G A PetarIan!…

    He is loyal with his friends…
    and thats the real loyality….

    PetAriAnS never forget their friends….

    Mr. Zulfiqar Mirza is also Petarian….

    Pakistan ka ALLAH he HafiZ….Recommend

  • Kafka

    yes, Mr. Zaka you will have to “pay back”Recommend

  • aftab

    Zaka Ashraf only qualification is friendship with Asif Zardari. His appointment as ZTBL President was also illegal. According to SBP regulations a person with MBA & Economics degree with 10yrs banking experience can be CEO or President of any bank. While his qualification is FA (Intermediate) and ZERO experience of banking before ZTBL job. That’s why SBP and LHR High court declared him ineligible for the position but cos he is Asif Zaradari’s friend and brother of Aishrat Ashraf (President PML-N women wing) he continued working as ZTBL President. Due to his family (sister) affiliation with PML-N Chief Justice was not in hurry to remove him like he did in case of NBP President (Ali Raza).

    He is also facing corruption charges in Supreme Court. Every one is blaming X-Chairman Mr. Butt for his incapability’s to run cricket affairs but he was an honest man as far as financial matters are concerned. Recommend

  • Musab Junaidi

    I am utterly disappointed by the appointment of Zaka Ashraf, but as far as the authors point of making an ex cricketer chairman of PCB, then its really ridiculous. Australian Cricket Board chairman is James Sunderland, ECB chairman is Giles Clark, BCCI president is Manohar none of them are Ex cricketers. So the authors point of appointing ex cricketers as chairman of PCB is simply ridiculous, perhaps some deserving personal from Business background should have been consider as an appropriate choice. Recommend

  • Ali

    What would could be expected from such president who is chosen only, well this RONA DHONA on his decisions is useless coz he is an elected man by us, thanks to those who voted him and thanks alot to those who supported him by nt voting anyone better…..Recommend

  • Sadik khan

    His job is to make the cricket ground a farming field toooooo…..bcz there is no International cricket in Pakistan from so Long…..Recommend

  • Nasir

    President has only one criteria in selecting a candidate for any strategic post.
    “Candidate must be most irrelevant person”…Recommend

  • Vaqas Asghar

    @Musab Junaidi:
    All but Giles Clarke are former first class players, with Clarke being a long term ECB employee, and hence having an understanding of how the game is run. A businessman may actually be an acceptable choice, but only if his name isn’t synonymous with corruption

    @Dr. Ali Ahmed:
    An understanding of the game is necessary, which is why the board chief should have extensive experience in sports administration, though i agree that being a former player isn’t a necessity, although it is a bonus in terms of the credibility the person brings.

    My own choice would have been ZED (Zaheer Abbas), who lacks admin experience, but has an understanding of the game unmatched by all others who were in the running. Plus, ZED has the credibility to redeem our reputation within the world of cricket administration, which Ejaz Butt and his fondness for being in Dubai and London (instead of the PCB office in Lahore) destroyed. Butt was also unpopular among players and administrators because he acted like “us ke baap ka raj hai” in context of running the board and punishing players for the mistakes he made as an administrator.

    Unfortunately, appointing a presumptively corrupt man ho doesn’t seem to understand the game beyond the fact that it involves hitting a round thing with a stick is definitely the wrong move. He doesn’t even know that the selection committee, not the board chief, pick the squad, and that too in consultation with the captain, vice-captain, coach, and sometimes the manager.

    PCB chief is a position which can be very lucrative for a person with limited ethics, and the Supreme Court case would suggest that it will be very lucrative for Mr Zaka Ashraf and his friends.Recommend

  • Jawad

    We know that how can Mr. Zaka Ashraf select player on merit.
    Selection is based on Money, without money no one can be a good player.Recommend

  • Sardar Abid

    @Talha Bhaii:

    Well Said,We should be optimistic and hope for the Best.I hope that he will be a good
    to manage the Cricket Affairs in Pakstan.He has proved him in Bussiness and as an President ZTBPRecommend

  • Tipu

    For Zaka Ashraf this is true 100 percent!!!
    If u r not sure about a person character, Look at his friends!!!!!Recommend

  • Ahmad Fuad

    Zaka’s appointment is against the constitution. He will not do much as he will not be answerable to anyone, just like Mr. Butt.
    To improve Pakistan cricket, Pakistan has to follow the constitution and should stop expecting from individuals and should develop a system.
    For more details, my article can be viewed at;