Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday appointed close friend Zaka Ashraf as chairman of the cricket board to replace the controversial Ijaz Butt, despite never having played the game.
Butt had reportedly sought a six-month extension in the high-profile post but Ashraf will instead take over as Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman with immediate effect, state-owned Pakistan Television said.
Ashraf, 59, a member of the executive committee of the ruling Pakistan People's Party, said his priority was to improve Pakistan cricket's image abroad after a series of high-profile scandals.
"I will work day and night to live up to president Zardari's confidence," Ashraf told a private television channel. "My top priority will be to improve Pakistan's cricket image and stop bookies and match-fixers."
Ashraf said that he will also try to improve relations with other cricket boards, including great rivals India, with whom sporting and diplomatic ties have stalled after a terrorist attack on Mumbai in 2008.
"People in both Pakistan and India love cricket so I will try to resume ties," said Ashraf.
"I believe in cricket diplomacy and hope that relations with all the countries improve," added Ashraf, who is the 32nd PCB chairman since its inception in 1948.
The reign of former Test player Butt, 73, ended last week after three turbulent years.
Butt was criticised for his policies by former players and parliamentarians alike, but Zardari, who as president of the country is a patron of the PCB, resisted all calls and did not replace him until his tenure expired.
Coinciding with Butt's reign was an attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in March 2009 which led to the halting of international cricket in Pakistan that continues to this day with teams too worried about security to tour.
An independent commission investigating the attack accused the PCB of negligence.
Butt also infuriated the England and Wales Cricket Board by alleging English players were involved in match-fixing. He had to retract his statement and apologised after England threatened legal action.
Butt sacked Shahid Afridi as captain in May this year, who in protest announced his retirement from international cricket, vowing not to play while Butt was chairman.
Butt also got rid of Australian coach Geoff Lawson and was criticised for frequent changes to the captaincy and selection committee.
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