Haider confirms seeking asylum in the UK
London/Karachi: Pakistan wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider has confirmed that he had sought asylum in the UK after fleeing from the Pakistan team hotel in Dubai following threats from match-fixers.
The 24-year old cricketer also said that he did not inform his team management or fellow cricketers about the issue as he did not want to put them at a risk.
The 24-year old cricketer, for the first time clearly admitted having sought asylum for himself and his family in the UK, which he felt was the safest place to be after he got threats from persons who wanted him to fix the fourth and fifth one-day internationals against South Africa in Dubai.
He also made the startling claim that the person who had approached him to fix the matches and threatened him with consequences if he did not cooperate, had stayed in the same hotel as the Pakistan team.
Zulqarnain said in a late night interview to Geo News channel that he had never thought about seeking asylum in the UK until the threats became real for him.
"I have come to the UK several times as a player and never thought about remaining here. I can earn much more coming here every year as a professional cricketer and playing for Pakistan," he said.
"But now the circumstances have compelled me to seek asylum for myself and my family. I didn`t feel safe in Dubai and I don`t think I will be safe in Pakistan," he said, hours after announcing his retirement from international cricket.
The wicketkeeper said he had been forced to flee to London after he allegedly received death threats for not cooperating with match-fixers.
He said he did not approach the Pakistan team management or fellow players with his problems because he did not want to put them at a risk.
"I feared for my safety and their`s as well that is why I took my passport from the manager by saying I wanted to buy a sim and slipped away to London," he said.
He also made it clear that he would think about returning to Pakistan even if the government assured him security and for his family.
"I would have to think and be sure the people who are behind trying to corrupt cricket are not responsible for getting me back to Pakistan," he said.
He said he was aware that some people were claiming that he had staged this drama to seek asylum in the UK, but asserted that only he knew the circumstances he had been through.
"I know the pressure and fear I have felt. Only because I am not willing to do anything wrong with my team and country," he added.
Zulqarnain said he had been issued a temporary stay in the UK till his case was being processed and that he had been interviewed by the British border office and by the ICC anti-corruption unit and Scotland Yard at his hotel.
Sky News earlier reported that around 10 police officers and at least two immigration officials went inside the hotel where Zulqernain was staying in London.