Zulqarnain withdraws UK asylum plea following Pak assurance

Updated: Apr 16, 2011, 15:12 PM IST

London: Runaway former Pakistani wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haidar has voluntarily withdrawn his application for asylum in Britain after the Pakistan government assured him and his family of “the highest level of security” in the country.

The now retired wicketkeeper had stunned one and all by fleeing the team hotel in Dubai hours before the final one-day international against South Africa last year. After reaching London, he had claimed that he had got death threats from a person who wanted him to fix matches, and subsequently sought asylum in the United Kingdom.

Following his decision to withdraw his asylum plea, Zulqarnain wrote a letter in this regard to British Home Secretary Theresa May, detailing the reasons both for seeking asylum and for now withdrawing his request for sanctuary.

“In light of the assurances that I have received, I feel that I no longer need sanctuary in the UK and have accordingly decided to withdraw my claim for asylum,” Geo TV quoted Zulqarnain, as saying in his letter to the British Home Secretary.

A few days back, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rahman Malik had assured Zulqarnain that he and his family would be given complete security, should the cricketer decide to return to the country from his self-imposed exile in the UK.

Malik also put himself in a direct conflict with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) by saying that Zulqernain faced threats from the “cricket mafia” and was right to desert the Pakistan team ahead of a match against South Africa last year.

Malik’s acknowledgment that the “cricket mafia is strong” and that “the cricketer had the right to flee abroad” might shock many in the PCB, who had blamed Zulqernain for bringing shame to Pakistan by deserting the team in the middle of an ODI series.

Meanwhile, Zulqarnain’s brother Aqeel Raza told Samaa TV that the cricketer was considering returning back to Pakistan, adding that such a decision would be taken according to the situation.

Bureau Report