Nasim Ashraf, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, will not be in the country for the ICC task force's visit to assess the security situation in the three venues hosting the Champions Trophy in September. The task force is scheduled to visit Pakistan between August 10 and 12 but Ashraf is in the USA and has had to extend his stay because of a minor surgery.
"The chairman [Ashraf] has undergone minor surgery and will return home within a week or so," Mansur Sohail, PCB's media chief, told the News. "He will have to miss the visit of the task force because of it."
The development added to speculation over Ashraf's future as PCB chairman. Ashraf is a ally of PCB patron Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistan president who is facing a possible impeachment.
The task force was scheduled to arrive in Islamabad on August 10. Sohail said the delegation would meet senior Interior Ministry officials in Islamabad on Monday and arrive in Karachi on Tuesday to meet the city's chief of police.
The delegation will be led by David Morgan, the ICC president, and will include Sharad Pawar (vice-president), Haroon Lorgat (CEO), IS Bindra (principal advisor), Tim May, the chief executive of the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations, representatives of ESPN-Star (the broadcasters of the event) and the board's security consultants.
The task force was constituted after a teleconference among top ICC officials on July 24, when it was decided that the Champions Trophy would go ahead in Pakistan as scheduled despite security concerns. The decision was met with reservations from the players' associations from Australia, England, South Africa and New Zealand, who warned of player boycotts.