The PCB has hit back at allegations made by former chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi about Mohammad Asif's detention at Dubai airport in June this year and the subsequent investigation into the matter.
Naghmi revealed earlier this week that Asif had been detained and eventually deported for possessing opium. He said that as head of a three-man inquiry committee into the matter, he had recommended a financial penalty and a ban, though the report was still with him unsigned and undelivered. Naghmi left the board in acrimonious circumstances after Ijaz Butt took over as chairman.
In an extensive and strongly-worded statement, the board struck back. "The revelation of former chief operating officer Shafqat Hussain Naghmi about fast bowler Mohammad Asif is a crude attempt to malign a Test cricketer and cast aspersions on the current management of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). Naghmi was removed from PCB by a unanimous decision of the governing board, a fact to which he has not yet reconciled."
The board said Naghmi's comments were "a gross violation of government service rules as well as PCB rules and are highly unethical, irresponsible, and unbecoming of a senior civil servant. Naghmi should have realised the dignity and responsibility of his official status before talking to a foreign news agency. The hallmark of civil service, namely anonymity, neutrality and transparency, have all been done in by Naghmi's unbecoming conduct."
Importantly, the board seems to also cast doubt on the exact nature of Asif's indiscretion. Though Naghmi identified the contraband, the statement implies - though doesn't definitively deny - it wasn't correct. "An inquiry into the Asif's incident has revealed the investigating committee headed by Naghmi - Zakir Khan and Nadeem Akram as members - only met for 15 minutes duration during which Asif's statement was recorded. It was not his place as a government servant to issue any statement against Mohammad Asif and allege negligence to the present management of the PCB for not asking him about the said report on the fast bowler.
"Naghmi should have also refrained from chastising Mohammad Asif that he was caught with a small amount of opium at the Dubai airport. A member of the committee headed by Naghmi, namely Zakir Khan has condemned the statement of Naghmi as rubbish since Zakir Khan categorically denies the preparation or the making of any such report."
The statement also details the circumstances surrounding Naghmi's departure from office when Butt took over, reiterating charges that he had tried to leave with board files and documents, before a final ticking off. "Naghmi's utterances that the new PCB management didn't bother to ask him for the report on Mohammad Asif appears a cruel joke. How could the new management of the PCB know about the existence of such a report? It was the moral duty of Naghmi to give charge of every thing to a responsible official of the PCB which he didn't. The PCB expects that in future Naghmi, being a government official, would follow his code of conduct and refrain from issuing statements against an institution whose patron is the president of the Islamic republic of Pakistan."
Zakir Khan is expected to speak to the media today about the case.