Imran Khan criticises reinstated cricket chief for vote rigging

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Former Pakistan captain turned politician Imran Khan on Tuesday lashed out at the country's newly reappointed cricket chief, alleging he was being rewarded for helping the ruling party commit fraud in last year's general elections.

Mr Najam Sethi, a prominent journalist who was also appointed as interim chief minister of the Punjab province during last year's election campaign, was reinstated as Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman on Monday by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

His predecessor Zaka Ashraf was removed on charges of not running the board properly.

But Mr Khan said that Mr Sethi was being rewarded for helping to rig the result of the May elections, in which his Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI) party won 35 of the 272 seats in the national Parliament.

The PTI has launched legal challenges concerning the result in hundreds of constituencies at the national and provincial levels.

"When the election tribunal rules on them we will know...who fixed the puncture and who was rewarded with the gift of the PCB chairmanship," Mr Khan told reporters.

"Fixing the punctures" refers to election rigging allegations.

Mr Sethi later took to Twitter to deny the allegation and ask "Is PTI a fascist party?" Mr Khan also questioned whether Mr Sethi, who is best known as the editor of the liberal Friday Times weekly newspaper, had enough cricketing knowledge for the post.

Mr Sethi's reinstatement was the latest twist in a long running legal saga that saw Mr Ashraf brought back as chief on January 15 by the Islamabad high court, eight months after he was originally removed over dubious elections in the PCB.

Mr Sethi was appointed the caretaker chairman in the interim period.

Meanwhile, Mr Ashraf's sacking was challenged in the Islamabad high court by two petitioners.

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