Haider seeks asylum in UK

Pakistan wicketkeeper retires from cricket and seeks asylum in UK after allegedly being threatened by match-fixers.

AQ2179 – Dubai, -, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES : Pakistani wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider (L) celebrates after the dismissing of South African batsman David Miller (R) during the third day-night international match between Pakistan and South Africa at the Dubai cricket Stadium in Gulf emirate on November 2, 2010. AFP PHOTO/ AAMIR QURESHI
Haider said he had received threats while being ordered to co-operate with match-fixing in Dubai [AFP]

A Pakistani wicketkeeper has quit international cricket and has confirmed he is seeking asylum in Britain for himself and his family, saying he feared for his safety after receiving alleged threats from match-fixers.

Zulqarnain Haider said he fled the team hotel in Dubai on Monday before the start of Pakistan’s fifth one-day match against South Africa and arrived in London hours later.

“I have decided it is best for me to retire from international cricket since my family and I are constantly getting threats,” he told the Geo news channel in Karachi.

“It is best for me to step down because I can’t play in these circumstances. But I would like to continue to play domestic cricket.”

The 24-year-old said he had been approached by a person who asked him to “fix the fourth and fifth match” against South Africa.

He said he was told if he did not co-operate he would no longer be a part of the Pakistani cricket team and his life would be made difficult.

“He was in the same hotel,” Zulqarnain said.

“I didn’t go to the management with my problem because I feared for my safety and for their safety. I took the decision to come to London after coming under lot of pressure after the fourth one-day match.”

‘Match-fixing’ scandals

The development is the latest twist in alleged match-fixing scandals rocking the Pakistan team.

Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt is one of three players charged with match-fixing [GALLO/GETTY] 

Earlier this year, Test captain Salman Butt and opening bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were suspended following spot-fixing allegations that emerged during a tour of England.

A newspaper report said the trio had arranged for deliberate no-balls to be delivered in the fourth and final Test against England.

Zulqarnain said he had been granted a temporary stay in the UK until his case was processed and that he had been interviewed by British border office, the International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption unit and Scotland Yard.

Julie Gibbs, spokeswoman for the London-based Information Centre about Asylum and Refugees, told the AP news agency that while Pakistani citizens seeking asylum were usually dealt with on a “fast-track system,” Haider did not stand a high chance.

“He’s not got a good chance. Pakistan isn’t really an asylum country,” she said.

South Africa won Monday’s final one-day game, claiming a 3-2 victory in the five-match series, but the result was overshadowed by Haider’s disappearance. 

Pakistan selectors have replaced the wicketkeeper with uncapped 25-year-old Adnan Akmal for the two Test matches against South Africa. The first Test begins in Dubai from Friday.

Haroon Lorgat, head of the International Cricket Council, said the issue surrounding Haider was a matter for the team management in the first instance.

“We would of course be interested in speaking to him but nobody knows where he is,” he told reporters.

“So we won’t make any comments until we are able to establish the facts.”

Source: News Agencies


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