Zulfiqar Bokhari – An Obituary

Zulfiqar Bokhari
Zulfiqar Bokhari

Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah Bokhari, former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman, passed away on Friday 4th January, 2019, in Lahore, after a prolonged illness.

Tall right-hand batsman, he captained Aitchison College, Lahore and later represented Lahore Gymkhana, under Dr. Jahangir Khan and Agha Ahmed Raza Khan, till the late 1960s. Though cricket was his first love, he also enjoyed hockey in his youth.

As PCB Chairman, he represented Pakistan on three occasions in the ICC annual meetings, i.e. 1995-97 and also oversaw the staging of the 1996 Wills World Cup, hosted jointly by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The Golden Jubilee Celebration in October 1997, included the first-ever Quadrangular ODI tournament in the country. Sadly, the match-fixing saga and constant chopping and changing of captains, were two of the major crisis, in Zulfiqar’s tenure that kicked off in March 1995.

Whilst he was in the office, the constitutional powers of the cricket Board shifted from Chairman to the CEO. A soft spoken gentleman of the old school with firm principles, he was not known to compromise when it came to political interferences, whilst working alongside first two Chief Executive Officers -Arif Abbasi and Majid Khan. He was released, not entirely merit-based, two months prior to his three-year tenure was to end, in January 1998, and controversially replaced by Khalid Mahmood. 

His younger brother Iftikhar Bokhari, confined to bed at present due to a stroke, was a first-class cricketer, who played for Cambridge University in 1957 and later for Punjab and Lahore in the domestic cricket till the 1965-66 winter.

An operation of the spine was not a great success in Zulfiqar’s case, prompting him to swim regularly at Lahore Gymkhana, before spending some quality time with close friends.  Believed to be in his late 80s, he leaves behind widow, son Tipu and a daughter. He was buried in the family graveyard in his ancestral town Shah Jewna, in Jhang district in Punjab.

The condolence messages, led by Ehsan Mani, the present PCB Chairman was followed by those from Majid Khan, Taher Memon and Najum Latif, amongst many from the cricket fraternity in Pakistan.