Pakistan cricketer Haider 'may seek UK asylum'

Pakistan's Zulqarnain Haider celebrates after their victory over South Africa in the fourth one-day international cricket match in Dubai on 5 November 2010 As a debutant, Haider scored a half century against England this summer

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Pakistan cricketer Zulqarnain Haider has reportedly said he may seek political asylum in the UK after fleeing a team camp in Dubai.

He told Pakistan's Geo News he received death threats for refusing to fix a game and fled rather than "sell out the dignity and respect of my motherland".

Haider said immigration officials in London had told him he could hire a lawyer to plead his case.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has launched an inquiry.

The 24-year-old wicketkeeper arrived in the UK on Monday after leaving the team camp in Dubai as Pakistan prepared for a match against South Africa.

In an interview reported to have been given from a hotel at London's Heathrow Airport, Haider told Geo News: "I received death threats to lose the fourth and fifth one-day internationals against South Africa, but I could not compromise the dignity of my country.

"I would rather flee away than sell out the dignity and respect of my motherland."

Start Quote

I cannot talk about the kind of threats I have received because my family is in Pakistan”

End Quote Zulqarnain Haider

Haider reportedly received threatening messages following Pakistan's victory in last Friday's fourth one-day international against South Africa, in which he made 19 not out and hit the winning runs.

On the eve of Monday's deciding match, Haider asked his team management for his passport, saying he needed it to get a SIM card for his mobile phone.

He told Geo News he had used the SIM card as an excuse so he could get his passport and leave Dubai.

Haider said he did not alert the PCB about the alleged threats because "it would have worsened the situation".

"I cannot talk about the kind of threats I have received because my family is in Pakistan," he told Geo News.

While being questioned about his family, Haider burst into tears and was unable to speak for some time.

He said he wanted his relatives to be allowed to come to the UK.

Pakistan's High Commissioner to the UK, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, told Bloomberg news agency: "We will give him any consular assistance that he requires."

Meanwhile, the PCB has announced a replacement for Haider for the forthcoming two-Test series against South Africa.

Uncapped wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal, 25, is set to become the third Akmal brother to keep wicket for Pakistan in international cricket.

The PCB has also announced that batsman Mohammad Hafeez will replace leg spinner Danish Kaneria in the Test squad.

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