By Raza Ruman
The caretaker government under Mohsin Naqvi and the Sharifs’ man PCB head Najam Sethi were badly exposed in terms of its mismanagement to streamline the cricket matches of PSL-8 in Lahore and Rawalpindi.
Although the matter has been settled at minute on the intervention of PM Shehbaz Sharif but once it fully exposed the capabilities of Mohsin Naqvi.
The PCB under the Sharifs blue eyed Najam Sethi has already threatened to move all scheduled matches to Karachi unless the government withdraws its demand of Rs450m from the board for making security arrangements for the matches.
The caretaker cabinet has voted against spending such a big amount from taxpayers’ money to provide security cover for what is a commercial franchised league.
The PCB, on the other hand, says it was the government’s duty to make security arrangements, whatever the cost. It also fears that if it makes the payment for the cost of the security as demanded by the provincial government it would set a precedent and Sindh may also demand the same for the matches in Karachi. Also, it says there’s no guarantee that the Punjab government would not come up with similar demands during future international bilateral series. Hence, the stand-off between the two sides, despite back-and-forth discussions and meetings during the last two days.
One is constrained to see that it is the government’s argument that stands out, especially at a time when the federation and provinces are required to save every penny they can to meet fiscal targets for securing the IMF loan deal. During the last fiscal year, the provincial government had spent Rs2.2bn on security arrangements for PSL and other international bilateral series. Around a quarter of that amount was spent on the league alone. That is a huge cost, much of which was expended on the arrangement of security lights, towers and wires, generators and fuel, transportation of security personnel, etc. The PSL being a commercial league, with PCB earning substantial profits from it, it is only fair that the latter picks up the security bill, instead of putting pressure on the government by threatening to shift the matches to Karachi. The league is built upon the core concept of ‘home and away’ and the PCB cannot deprive Pakistan’s cricket buffs of the ‘home cities’ of the teams of ‘cricketainment’.
The circus might have been avoided if both Sethi and Naqvi — the Sharifs and Zardaris’ men — sorted out the matter amicably. PAK DESTINY