KARACHI: Zulqarnain Haider has been granted temporary stay in the UK by the British interior ministry after his request to seek political asylum in the country.
The Pakistan wicket-keeper, who confirmed that he had received threats for not following orders to underperform in the One-Day International series, mysteriously disappeared from the Pakistan team hotel in Dubai before the series-finale against South Africa on Monday, and later resurfaced at Heathrow Airport in London.
In a television interview, Haider said that he has been interviewed by the British police, the border control agency and the International Cricket Council’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU), a claim ACSU officials have not confirmed.
Haider announces retirement after threats
Pakistan wicket-keeper Zulqarnain Haider has vowed to take back his international retirement and return to playing days if the Pakistan Cricket Board wants him to and the authorities can promise him full security after his return to the country.
Haider, who had earlier announced his retirement from international cricket citing security concerns following his arrival in London, confirmed that he had been interviewed by British police as well as the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Anti Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU).
“I have no issues in playing for Pakistan again providing the PCB wants me to,” Haider told a Pakistani news channel.
Keeper announced retirement earlier
A day after sensationally disappearing from the team hotel in Dubai, Haider had announced his retirement from international cricket, claiming fear for his safety after he received threats from bookmakers. The 24-year-old, who was spotted at Heathrow Airport in London, left the day Pakistan played South Africa in the series-decider.
“In present circumstances I think it would be best for me to leave international cricket because there are security issues for me and my family,” he had said in his first statement to the media after the move. He added that he would convey his retirement decision in a letter to the PCB. “The person approached me when I went out for dinner and asked me to cooperate. He warned me that if I don’t, I’ll face difficulties and also lose my place in the national squad.”
‘Person spoke in non-Pakistani Urdu accent’
While refusing to point fingers, Haider claimed that the person who approached him spoke in Urdu, which was not in a Pakistani accent.
“I remember his face and he spoke in Urdu which was not the way we speak. I can’t say much as I’m not sure of his nationality. I left after the threats because I was afraid and I didn’t find it appropriate to discuss the issue with anybody.
“I just wanted to stay out of this so I decided to leave the team without anyone’s knowledge. I just had one thing in mind that I cannot sell my country which is like a mother to me.”
ICC urges players to speak up
The ICC called for more co-operation from international cricketers as its chief executive Haroon Lorgat said Haider’s case highlighted the importance of sharing corruption information.
“I think we have to build the confidence among the players that the right thing to do is to speak to the officials,” Lorgat told AFP. “I don’t think it was wise of him to have done what he did, because it doesn’t solve the problems for him as well and the right thing would have been to speak to the ACSU.”
Adnan Akmal to replace Zulqarnain
The PCB has replaced Haider with Adnan Akmal for the two-Test series starting on Friday in Dubai. Meanwhile, Mohammad Hafeez who impressed in the ODI series, has been included to replace leg-spinner Danish Kaneria after the PCB refused to clear him. Former captain Younus Khan, who was initially selected for the ODI series, also secured his place in the Test squad.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2010.
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