Imran Khan’s promise in his inaugural victory speech – that there will be no political victimization or personal grudges in his government – was an uncharacteristically mature one; coupled with his conciliatory tone it was perhaps the single biggest reason his speech was universally lauded. Now that the cameras are off and the public looking elsewhere the real test begins – can the future Prime Minister keep his personal sentiments away from the objective job of governance?
The fate of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman will answer this question in its entirety. Even before the new government taking office speculation is rife that Imran Khan will remove the current Chairman, Najam Sethi, and appoint someone else. The catch here is that apart from a personal conflict between the two men – where Imran Khan (incorrectly) accused Najam Sethi of participating in the rigging of the 2013 elections – there is no reason to remove the current chairman. In fact there is a host of reason to retain Najam Sethi, under whose leadership the PCB has turned over a new leaf and become an effective government body.
For decades the PCB had been poor shape; shuttled from one political appointee chairman to the next. Yet over the past few years the body has managed to effectively deal with corruption in sport, created a merit based selection system that is consistently producing young talent for the national teams – which are performing visibly better because of this – and most importantly of all, worked to bring the sport back home.
It took considerable effort and a well-coordinated charm offensive to convince international players to play inside the country. The advent of Pakistan Super League (PSL), which has become a commercial and entertainment success, is another feather in the cap of the current PCB administration.
Opting to retain Najam Sethi for the post would not only be the right decision from a cricketing perspective, it would demonstrate that Imran Khan is the mature leader that the country needs at the moment.