Pakistan cricket board chairman briefly suspended

The legal tussle rocking the Pakistan Cricket Board took another dramatic twist Tuesday as the interim chairman was suspended by a court order, only to be reinstated two hours later.

Najam Sethi addresses a press conference in Lahore on June 24, 2013

A judge at Islamabad High Court suspended Najam Sethi for not obeying a legal order to elect a permanent chairman for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) by October 18.

It was the second time in five months that the game's chief administrator in Pakistan had been thrown out on a legal challenge.

But, just two hours later, an appeals bench at the same court granted a stay order on the ruling until November 4, following an application from the PCB legal team.

Tuesday's drama was the latest round in a saga that has plunged the administration of the game, followed fanatically by millions in Pakistan, into turmoil since May.

Sethi was appointed in June after the Islamabad High Court threw out the then-chairman Zaka Ashraf over what it called the "dubious" process by which he was elected.

On Tuesday, the court suspended Sethi following a petition from a cricket official in Punjab province complaining he had ignored a court order to hold an election for the chairmanship by October 18.

"Sethi, by not holding elections, has disobeyed the court's order and he is suspended and all the matters relating to the board will be handled by PCB secretary," the court said.

Justice Munir Shaikh, a former Supreme Court judge, was named chairman of the election committee and was ordered to hold a vote for chairman by the last week of November.

But, soon afterwards, a two-judge appeals bench agreed to hold the order over until Monday, when the court will look at the matter again, PCB legal adviser Taffazul Rizvi told AFP.

Sethi took to Twitter to welcome the order.

"Isbd High Court Two Member Bench has granted STAY against Single Bench Orders. I remain Chairman PCB," Sethi tweeted.

The legal drama began after the International Cricket Council (ICC), the world governing body, demanded measures to end political interference in the sport.

The appointment of the PCB chairman has traditionally been in the gift of the Pakistani president in his role as patron of the board, and the practice was seen as highly politicised.

To follow ICC rules, Ashraf -- who had been appointed by then-president Asif Ali Zardari -- stood successfully for election to the job, but was struck down following a legal challenge which argued that the process had been flawed.

Former fast bowling star Waqar Younis last week called for a swift end to the legal wrangling, which he said was damaging cricket in Pakistan.

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Writer: AFP
Position: News agency