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Mystery continues in Haider affair

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David Bond | 15:10 UK time, Wednesday, 10 November 2010

After 24 hours of confusion the BBC now understands that the Pakistan wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider has claimed asylum in the UK.

He now has the right to stay here while his application is processed - something which could take up to six months.

It also became clear on Wednesday morning that investigators from the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption unit have interviewed Haider following his arrival in London on Monday.

My understanding is that the ICC investigators spoke to him at his hotel near Heathrow Airport late on Tuesday night.

Although it is not thought to be related, the meeting came just hours after the ICC's chief executive Haroon Lorgat, speaking at the governing body's headquarters in Dubai, appealed to the player to come forward with any information he might have relating to possible match-fixing.

So, having gone from sought-after whistleblower to unreliable witness in the space of a day, it now seems Haider is being treated seriously again.

Having spent Tuesday at the hotel where Haider is holed up, it was, at times, extremely hard to take the situation seriously.

At one stage police officers appeared to stage the player's exit from the hotel with a carefully choreographed manoeuvre involving three police vehicles, climaxing with a seemingly empty police van speeding past camera crews. Was he in there? Wasn't he? Who knows.

A spokesman in the Metropolitan Police press office denied any officers were at the hotel interviewing Haider even though I approached two plain clothes officers who confirmed they were from the Met but, to be fair, would not confirm who they were there to interview.

The press officer said the only reason any police were at the hotel at all was because management were worried about the press pack which had gathered in the lobby. That was despite the fact that officers had already arrived when just three or four colleagues from the BBC were there in the morning, well in advance of the rest of the media.

Even more intriguingly I spoke to Haider twice earlier in the day. We arranged to do an interview and on both occasions he seemed fairly relaxed. He had already spoken with Pakistan network Geo TV and seemed to be prepared to talk again to the BBC.

By mid-morning, however, something had changed and he went to ground.

Zulqarnain Haider

Trying to draw any conclusions from his flight to London and his subsequent contradictory comments is extremely hard.

But cynics might ask if he was really worried for his safety and that of his family, why would he give any interviews to the media?

Why would he check into a hotel near Heathrow airport under his own name? It took just one call by a BBC journalist to identify which hotel he was staying at - although within a few minutes of putting calls through to his room, the hotel's staff ludicrously claimed he wasn't staying there after all.

And why, if he was really anxious to talk to the ICC anti-corruption unit - and he has spoken favourably about the work they are doing on his Facebook page in the last few weeks - didn't he simply go and see them at their HQ in Dubai, right next door to where he was playing for Pakistan?

None of this adds up - and maybe it shouldn't when we are dealing with a man who is acting irrationally amid concerns for his life.

But as the Pakistan Cricket Board's Nadeen Sarwar pointed out on Wednesday morning, every player is aware of the procedure in the event that they receive an approach from a third party seeking to influence the outcome of cricket matches.

In another new development, the PCB has now suspended the runaway wicketkeeper's contract for violating its terms and conditions.

A statement added that the PCB was still trying to get in touch with Haider but attempts to contact him have so far been unsuccessful.

If Haider genuinely believes other members of the team and or officials are corrupt then his reluctance to talk to them is understandable.

And we must remember that any evidence he may offer which will shed further light on what's been going on inside the Pakistan dressing-room will be welcome for a game fearful for its own reputation.

But at the moment we are all still in the dark.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Of the many former Pakistan players to have commented on ZH's actions, I haven't yet seen anything from Rashid Latif - another Pakistani wicketkeeper who tried to expose matchfixing issues and suffered the wrath of the dressing room and was widely castigated.

    Can't help feeling there is something else going on with this story but for the moment ZH surely needs to be given assistance so that his 'facts' can be checked.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    If Pakistani officials and players are part of this culture of corruption and are willing to play a role in it, then, the time has come for the ICC to take the bold, unprecedented step to ban Pakistan from all forms of cricket, permanently.

    With no confirmation of Zulqarnain Haider's claim, and if such claim is unfounded, he can fairly be labeled an "opportunist" and must be denied asylum. To grant asylum, under such circumstances, would be opening the door to a flood of 'copycats' and I'm certain, there's no appetite for that in the UK.

    This story, in a way, is reminiscent of the conspiracy theories still swirling about the JFK assassination. Will we ever know the truth?

    Possibly!

  • Comment number 4.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 5.

    "But cynics might ask if he was really worried for his safety and that of his family, why would he give any interviews to the media?"

    As yet, that's you and the Pakistani authorities!

  • Comment number 6.

    The ICC offices where he could have enlightened cricket on this fixing was next door to the stadium he was playin in back in Dubai. He is chasig the Brtish passport and nothing else. I suspect he will be charged for waisting police time.

  • Comment number 7.

    1. I think he left because he felt he had no one to turn to because all the PCB management and players of consequence are deeply in the pocket of bookies and the person who approached him in the hotel, he knows him because that person controls all other players and the management. I think unpredictable performance of various players even who are not on the take but still get influenced by other means by threats i.e. afridi, makes it appear they only play for the bookies for sure. As you will notice no one really came to win fifth odi, they just wanted to make it look competitive. I could see the body language of players Razaq, Afridi, Riaz, I never felt that they came to win it. Haider felt after he won the fourth odi, the team atmosphere would be encouragement but it was of mourning not of triumph. No one appreciated his hard work because they knew that there will be consequences for all of them.
    2. Haider spoke the truth early but now his family is putting pressure on him because PCB has conveyed the message to him via his family that if he doesn't play the ball he hasn't seen anything yet hence contract suspension etc.
    Pakistan cricket is rotten to the core and Haider is a poor, simple and honest fellow he is no one win situation. I think he listened Mazhar Mahmoud (Newsofthe world) too much and not his family. Ijaz Butt is conduit of the bookies who have links to the top and the rest are soldiers. Haider should have pretended to play along and he would still be in the team. They couldn't find any other player except Adnan Akmal that tells you everything that Lahore bookies control the old man and they decide who goes and who plays, Ijaz makes all the decisions with Zardari and Jakhrani. I feel for him and his family. He is doomed unfortunately for his honesty, integrity and love for his country.
    We can say good bye to the dead body known as Pakistan cricket...it has been on respirator since Imran Khan left. Unfortunately this was the only way left for people like zulqarnain etc but it is no more. You have to play along Like Amir, Asif and Butt or you will be in the wilderness like many other players.

  • Comment number 8.

    Haider -Case in Point

    When he will blow the whistle ?

    I am afraid that is never going to happen .

    Something is not adding up in the story. He seems to have knowledge of UK immigration system but he has no knowledge of how to contact ICC Anti Corruption unit in Dubai considering the fact that
    ICC gave some Anti Corruption lecture to Pak team.

    Haider story is clear as mud.


  • Comment number 9.

    The whole thing hinges on the veracity of Haider's allegations. Until that is established, any comments on the issue are pure speculation and reveal more about the political views of the person commenting than anything else.

  • Comment number 10.

    Cricket in UAE is run by the Dawood gang and they will go to any extent to have their work done. This is their handiwork to get the Akmals IN.

  • Comment number 11.

    As long as Zardari is in power you will never see any foreign coach in any capacity associated with Pakistan team. Now the firing of the Australian coach and physio makes perfect sense.
    So you will see same tainted faces rotated back and forth in management. If it is not yawar it will be intikhab or it will be Yawar again because they are unfit for a nursing facility. Even rebel like Aqib javed have compromised for the sake of a job...keep your mouth shut and you will be in. w has been buddy since his playing days.

  • Comment number 12.

    ..as far as I can throw a ten foot lead cricket bat...

  • Comment number 13.

    If you were going to line up behind anybody to test your credibility, I can think of nothing worse than Pakistani cricket. Even Jeffrey Archer at his nadir seems a better option.

    At first sight the actions of Haider may seem illogical, but they make perfect sense considering the circumstances. He obviously does not trust anyone with the Pakistani cricket team or their authorities. Having made the decision to go public with this information, would you do so in a country and place you did not feel safe? Bearing in mind that all indications are that Dubai is strongly linked with these betting groups. Something that has existed for many years without being prosecuted.

    Next the red herring of asylum, which can easily just serve the need for a safe place to stay until everything blows over. He has obviously contacted the ICC and already talked to them. Just because he chooses a location he feels safe, in no way denigrates that decision, even if he is next door to the ICC head quarters in Dubai. I imagine he has already talked this over with his family and arrangements have been made in that regard also.

    It would not surprise me in the very near future that Haider seals a lucrative deal with one of the papers. That would raise motive but still be perfectly understandable, which any logical person whether telling lies or the truth would take. The crux of the story will be what evidence he brings with him.

    I still have the words of the Pakistani High Commissioner giving 100% backing and confidence to the Pakistani cricketers when the initial cheating allegations surfaced in the UK, but declining not to take up Nicky Campbells idea of resignation should he be wrong. We may find Haider's motives may not be truly altruistic, but given the choice between him and the alternative would not even cause me to blink.

  • Comment number 14.

    Of course he wasn't going to go straight to the unit in Dubai. He'd just been threatened - in Dubai - by an anonymous stranger, nipping next door straight away to shop him in might just have seemed a little dangerous. He naturally didn't want to stay where he felt the threat was, which ruled out both Dubai and Pakistan, and the country he knows best after those is Britain, so it was the natural choice.


    At least, that's if you accept his word. As yet, I see no reason not too, despite the feeble and unfounded slurs the likes of David Bond keep casting...

  • Comment number 15.

    I just feel incredibly let down by everyone in this situation.

    1. The PCB we now know they are rotten to the core and all they have done in the last few months since they left the UK under a cloud of suspicion is try to male themselves seem like they want to kick corruption out of the game. The only problem is they are where it starts from Butt downwards.

    2. The ICC just may as well be my grandmother as they aren't doing enough. How can they let cricket go through this?

    3. The UK here we are seemingly questioning this man over whether he is trying to get asylum or not? Is this what we have come to if so i think i may have to move out as i am disgusted with us that we even question this stance now. Yes in time this question needs to be asked but for now. Get Haider safe, his family out of Pakistan, for the saftey of every one concerned.

    Surely you realise that if we don't he can never tell what's really happened as he may be safe but what about his family?????

    I guess the only way to actually do something about it is to give up a sport that i dearly love, have played for 30 years. Until Pakistan and any other countries who seemingly get mixed up with the bookmakers are thrown out or found out.

    If enough people make sure that all test areana's are empty and no betting goes on the match then maybe it will hurt enough people for something to be done, the reality is nothing will happen it will get swept under the carpet over the next few months and we will all pretend that nothing has happened and that we are all best of friends again.

    Sorry I for one will not spend anymore money on cricket until the ICC does something for once in its miserable existence!

  • Comment number 16.


    Sadly I think that the time has come to suspend Pakistan from international cricket.

    At the very least this should be until those at the top of Pakistan cricket/government prove to the rest of the international community that they are taking the whole issue seriously. Today's comments have proved once again that this is not happening.

    If a ban proves impossible to agree then the individual countries should unilaterally refuse to play them.

  • Comment number 17.

    I concur, well put!

  • Comment number 18.

    How interesting!

    He is so concerned about the security of his family that he jumps on a plane and scuttles off to England, surely not the nearest country to Pakistan, and seeks asylum.

    The thing is, he appears to have left his family behind. Oops! Obviously not all THAT concerned then.

    Perhaps he missed the news ... benefits are being cut. He should go back from whence he came.

  • Comment number 19.

    Sussex by the Sea wrote:
    He is so concerned about the security of his family that he jumps on a plane and scuttles off to England, surely not the nearest country to Pakistan, and seeks asylum.

    The thing is, he appears to have left his family behind. Oops! Obviously not all THAT concerned then.
    -----------------
    He needs to find safe place for himself before he can help his family to safety. From his statements he doesn't seem to believe that his own government in order fro Pakistani cricket not to appear further embroiled with controversy and match fixing, will give credence to his allegation.

  • Comment number 20.

    This is another sad day for cricket
    Its looks like retire from cricket is the best option for him
    ICC needs to sort this problem out soon before we get more cases like this

    ICC need to go to the core problem of these recent cricket problems in Pakistan and force these bad guys in cricket to stop doing them.

    With the World Cup coming in the subcontinent soon next year and not long now, its important these problems are solved asap.

    Despite all this, Pakistan have been playing very good cricket recently so that should be good news.

  • Comment number 21.

    at sussex by the sea:

    do you know what he earns?? he is an international sportsman and more than very likely money is hardly an issue for him. he probably pays more in tax than you and i earn together. how sad that us british no longer respect the values that everyone applauds us for.

  • Comment number 22.

    The guy wants UK Citizenship and play county cricket for a mid or low rank team next year or whenever the Citizenship allows him to! Perfect plan!

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    I find it absurd that any posts that are sympathetic to Haider and critical of pakistan are censored. The beeb's need to be political correct is impinging on my right to speech. Disgraceful.

  • Comment number 26.

    May I ask why folks that are downright nasty to a player who is arguably terrible circumstances aren't censored, but anyone who comments on pakistan's chequered track record is? Typical beeb double standards

  • Comment number 27.

    I applaud Haider for the courage of his convictions. Its a huge sacrifice to give up one's international career at 24. With all due respect UK citizenship isn't worth the trade-off, especially not in this day & age. Good luck to him. I hope he gets citizenship and can resurrect his career here. Shame on Pakistan for not doing more to avoid embarrassing circumstances that occur with remarkable frequency. It hints at a deep malaise that just cant seem to be cured

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    "...when just three or four colleagues from the BBC were there in the morning, well in advance of the rest of the media."

    Does that mean that even more "colleagues" arrived later, or is it just a boast about beating the News-of-the-Screws to the crime scene?
    I'm not sure that either is anything to be proud of.
    :)

  • Comment number 30.

    ICC has acted like a toothless tiger again and not done anything. Zulqarnain has shown some guts but seems like he is lacking brains. Cricket nowadays reminds me of the WWF. Its all fixed, dont know which results are genuine.
    Pakistan cricket is a circus, Ijaz Butt is a clown. ICC stands for Impotent Cricket Chiefs and Haroon Logart is a puppet.

  • Comment number 31.

    Personally I am amazed that Pakistan themselves have not voluntarily withdrawn from international cricket while all the allegations and internal wranglings are investigated.

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    Contrary to what the author says most of the things that he has done make complete sense.
    1. Not telling the Pakistani mgmt: certainly you cannot blame him for that when there have been allegations left, right and center about Pakistani cricket. Even if every single one of them is clean, would he bet his life on that? I do not think so.
    2. Not going to ICC headquarters: the author does not seem to have any idea of how the underworld functions. Ask us Indians/Pakistanis, we can tell you that the most important thing for them is to have someone inside the forces they are fighting. They have on their payroll from top politicians to the encounter specialists to the intelligence community. So the ICC headquarters is obviously not a big deal. And perhaps more importantly, though Dubai may seem like a spank and clean place it has an extremely dirty underbelly with it being a safe haven for many of the dons active in the east and is also famous for the lavish parties given by these guys.
    3.Going public and creating a ruckus: that to me seems to a very clever thing to do. Once you have told entire world that the underworld is threating you, they are perhaps more likely to pay for your protection than harm you, atleast until the hype dies down. It seems to me that he is hitting back at their pressure.
    4.Going to London: The western people may not be aware of it, but we Indians/Pakistanis kind of look upto you for your law and order maintainence.
    To me it seems to me that the guy has guts and brains and some integrity.
    And for once please support someone who has atleast taken one of the better alternatives in the face of threats and financial enticement. After all he could have easily given in and made some decent amount of cash.

  • Comment number 34.

    It is very easy to be cynical about Haider's actions, but at this stage I don't really see anything other than a young, confused man who is concerned for his wellbeing and his career.

    The process of applying for asylum is long and rigourous (despite what the Daily Mail would have you believe). Asylum is not granted without good reason and a young man with a very promising career ahead of him most likely has very good reason for taking this significant step. Bear in mind that this isn't about chasing wealth - he would be comparitively much richer as an international cricketer in Pakistan than as a County cricketer in England.

    Is it that hard to believe that he didn't want to approach the PCB and put his life in the hands of Ijaz Butt? Butt is a man who has effectively done everything he can to undermine the world's view of Pakistani cricket through his absurd pronunciations and lack of any tact or diplomacy. If I were fearing for my life, I would not run to a man widely viewed as a laughing stock in international cricket circles.

    I can't answer the question about why he didn't go to the ICC in Dubai, but for now I will choose the charitable interpretation that any man in fear for his life might want to get as far away from the place he is in as possible.

    Speaking to the media hardly seems a strange move - the more visible he makes himself and his case now, the more secure he will be. Ultimately, I'm fully aware that I could be proved terribly wrong on all counts above, but I would rather hold on to the slim hope that here we have a man who is actually taking a public stand against the biggest poison in the game.

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    I would love to know how my last comment was against house rules please so i dont do it again, as i thought it was a fair comment? BBC WILL YOU PLEASE START EXPLAINING WHERE WE GO WRONG AS I LIKE TO COMMENT BUT DO NOT WANT TO GET IN TO TROUBLE FOR IT. VERY FRUSTATING

  • Comment number 37.

    Post 21. Pakistani cricketers are amongst the lowest paid in international cricket. The average salary is something like £30k per year. And since he's not one of the top players in his team, he may be on an even lower salary. So it's very possible his motives may partially be financially related. After all, he is seeking 'asylum' in a country that pays cricketers more than any other nation.

  • Comment number 38.

    The stories of ZH are changing every hour. I think this guys needs a full mental health evaluation. I am start doubting his claims. Either he is too smart - who knows all the UK legal system, buying one way ticket and too dumb to reside next to Heathrow airport. Worrying about himself and his family but talking to media every other hours with changing stories. It would be interesting if he put on lie detector by MI6 or SY.

  • Comment number 39.

    Sport is a form of entertainment where result governs marketability.If those results are manipulated for someone's gains then you are not going to have a very product to market... People will just move on to the next reality show where the result is transparent and fair

    Wake UP ICC , Grow some spine and do something about it..you cannot ask Mr.Zardari to step down, so make his role in Cricketing matters irrelevant by taking action against the Pakistani international team. Make schedules and fixtures according to ICC liking rather than Pakistan Boards.

    Held matches in places where its very hard for bookies to influence the game, put squad in their dressing room...these measures are better than banning Pakistan altogether...

 

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