Islamabad: A Pakistan court on Wednesday restored suspended cricket board chief Zaka Ashraf, official media said, the latest development in an embarrassing legal scandal in the cricket-mad nation.
The process, which began after Ashraf was suspended following dubious elections in May last year, has tarnished the reputation of the country's cricket authorities and led to widespread ridicule.
The Islamabad High Court accepted Ashraf's appeal to be reinstated, with a detailed judgement expected on Thursday, the state-run Radio Pakistan said.
Ashraf, appointed as Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman in October 2011, was elected chairman for a four-year term under a new PCB constitution but the court suspended him after a petition challenging the transparency of the process.
After the general elections in Pakistan in May 2013, the new Nawaz Sharif-led government appointed veteran journalist Najam Sethi as the board's interim chairman. But in July the Islamabad High Court ordered Sethi to hold elections for his post by October and curtailed his power.
In a response to the court's decision, Sharif amended the board's constitution, making himself its 'patron' and restoring Sethi's powers. Reacting to the latest ruling, Ashraf, who was handpicked by former president Asif Ali Zardari, hailed the judgement.
"I respected court orders before and I respect it now, and will continue to work for the betterment of cricket in Pakistan," Ashraf told media in Lahore.
"Cricket is a non-political game and it is supported by millions in Pakistan. This legal process has hurt Pakistan cricket badly," said Ashraf.
But despite the judgement, confusion reigned at the PCB's headquarters in Lahore. The board's legal adviser Taffazul Rizvi said he could not comment until he gets a detailed judgement. "Till I read the full judgement I can't say whether Ashraf has been restored conditionally or otherwise," Rizvi told AFP.
Pakistan cricket has been embroiled in controversies on and off the field, the biggest being match-fixing in 2000 and 2010, which resulted in top cricketers being banned.