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Pak keeper Haider seeks asylum in UK

Last updated on: November 10, 2010 10:15 IST
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Pakistan wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider is seeking asylum in Britain after fleeing from Dubai because he feared for his safety after being ordered to cooperate with match-fixers.

Zulqarnain said he was forced to apply for asylum because of the circumstances that made him leave the team hotel in Dubai.

"I had no intention of applying for asylum. I have put my cricket career at stake. I could have earned much more coming here as a Pakistani player without any issues," the wicketkeeper told Geo News channel.

Zulqarnain, 24, also announced his international retirement after being approached by a person who asked him to fix the fourth and fifth One-Day Internationals against South Africa.

"I have decided it is best for me to retire from international cricket since my family and I are constantly getting threats," he said.

Zulqarnain Haider"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."

Zulqarnain was a member of the Pakistan squad whose tour of England this year degenerated into chaos when Test captain Salman Butt and opening bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were suspended following spot-fixing allegations.

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

The International Cricket Council's (ICC) Anti-Corruption and Security Unit upheld the provisional suspensions on Butt and Amir after the pair appealed. Asif withdrew his appeal in order to give his lawyers more time to prepare their case.

Their fate will now be determined by an independent tribunal which will meet at a date yet to be set.

The ICC said on Sunday it was impressed by the Pakistan Cricket Board's response to its request to review the integrity of the game at all levels.

The initiatives include the development of an anti-corruption code, a proposed plan to regulate players' agents and an enhanced nationwide education programme.

INTIKHAB SURPRISED

Zulqarnain, who hit the winning runs in the fourth one-day match on Friday, left the team hotel shortly before the fifth which was won by South Africa to clinch the series 3-2.

He landed in London hours after leaving Dubai and spent almost four hours locked in discussions with immigration authorities.

Speaking about his decision to leave, he said: "I was told to cooperate or I would face lot of problems.

"This person approached me while I had gone out of the hotel for dinner. He told me cooperate with us and you can make a lot of money.

"He said, 'If you don't cooperate you will no longer be part of the team and we can make life very difficult for you'."

Pakistan sports minister Aijaz Hussain Jakhrani described Zulqarnain's defection as "an embarrassment for Pakistan" and asked the Pakistan Cricket Board to submit a report on the case.

"If he (Zulqarnain) is such a weak and scared man, he should not have played cricket especially not for Pakistan," Jakhrani said. "It is unacceptable that he should desert the team in this manner and seek asylum in London."

Pakistan manager Intikhab Alam said Zulqarnain's sudden departure had been a surprise.

"He never spoke to me about any of this. I am not a magician to know what is going on in the mind and heart of a person," Intikhab said.

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said the issue is 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."

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