Pakistan cricket's administrative turmoil may have let Mohammad Asif off the hook on at least one of inquiries he is facing over drugs-related charges. This despite the confirmation of an ex-board official that Asif was found in possession of opium at Dubai Airport in June this year.
Asif was detained in the city for 19 days before eventually being sent back to Pakistan, after what were thought to be high-level negotiations between various parties in the two countries. But Shafqat Naghmi, who was the board's chief operating officer at the time before leaving last month, says Asif was deported and that the offense against him was proved in Dubai's courts.
Naghmi headed a three-man board committee that looked into the case. The report made recommendations to financially penalise Asif and ban him for a number of matches. "The report was based on documentary evidence that we received from Dubai," Naghmi "According to their authorities, opium was found and he was deported. The deportation was on the basis of the crime or offense being proved.
"But in view of the insignificance of the matter and also keeping in mind the high administrative costs of going further with the trial for punishment, authorities there decided to deport him instead." Naghmi said that his recommendation in the report was for a hefty financial fine and banning Asif from a significant number of matches.
The catch - and possible saving of Asif - is that the report has not yet be signed off by the members, including Nadeem Akram and Zakir Khan. And it hasn't been sent to the chairman of the board either.
Like Naghmi, Akram is no longer with the board, though Zakir remains director cricket operations. Naghmi said the report was due to be signed and sent off to Nasim Ashraf, the chairman at the time, but he resigned abruptly. "We didn't send it immediately to the chairman because he was out of the country. The draft of the report was prepared. When the chairman came back he resigned and finally when the new chairman took over (Ijaz Butt), he showed no real interest in the case," Naghmi said. "If they want the report I can send it to them."
Senior board officials in the current set-up have made inquiries. "We haven't seen any copy of it and as far as we are concerned there is no written report," an official "We do have a Rs 5 million bill from Angel and Afridi, the legal firm that helped Asif in Dubai, left to us by the last board but where is the report?"
Even if the report were to be received - after being signed by all three members - there are indications that the present set-up may not be too willing to press ahead and act on the recommendations.
Asif is also facing an IPL inquiry after he tested positive for the steroid Nandrolone in tests there earlier this year. If found guilty, he is likely to face a ban, though the ambit of that ban is not clear yet.
Strangely, however, the board is looking at the two separate offences as one, arguing that punishment for one will serve as punishment for the latter. The underlying implication seems to be that the Dubai inquiry may not be pursued. "It will become like double jeopardy in one sense," the official said. "He has a hearing in India on November 29 and if he gets banned there, will you punish him again here?"