Back at home, Zulqarnain vows to ‘share’ everything
ISLAMABAD: Runaway former Pakistan wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider returned home from Britain on Monday after receiving government assurances about the safety of his family.
Haider, who turned 25 on Saturday, fled the Pakistan team’s hotel in Dubai on November 8 for the United Kingdom after saying he had received demands that he fix a one-day match against South Africa under the threat of death.
He arrived by plane in Islamabad on Monday and was escorted by security officials to Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s office where he met the minister, who had guaranteed his safety.
“I am happy to return. There were solid reasons behind my going to London and I am sure everyone realised that no one can put his career at stake for nothing,” Haider told reporters after the meeting.
With his younger daughter on his lap, Haider added: “I am happy the way I was given full security. I want to spend some time with my family and then meet PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) chairman (Ijaz Butt) which I will share with you.”
Haider will be given full security as promised,” Malik said.
“He is a citizen of Pakistan so there is no restriction on his movement. He has told us some facts which at this point of time we cannot share with the media.”
Wearing a casual shirt and jeans, Haider was earlier whisked away by security officials to avoid a scrum at the airport, where he also met his wife, daughters and brother, witnesses said.
The wicketkeeper was part of the Pakistan team in the series against South Africa in the United Arab Emirates when he went missing on the day of the fifth and final one-day match on November 8.
He fled to London and announced his retirement from international cricket.
A week later he applied for asylum there.
Last week Haider met Malik and, after receiving promises of safety for himself and his family, agreed to return home. He said he had also decided to withdraw his asylum request.
After his disappearance the PCB terminated his contract and formed a committee to establish the facts surrounding the dramatic departure.
But the three-member committee said there were no clear motives behind his disappearance and also declared him “mentally ill”.
After meeting Malik last week, Haider also said he would return to cricket.
“Since I have been given full assurances of safety, I have no reason to continue with my asylum application and after returning home I want to resume my cricket career,” he said.
The PCB said Monday that Haider had not yet been in touch with them.
“If he makes a contact, then only we will have to decide whether he will have to appear before the committee. He didn’t submit details sought by the fact-fixing committee last year,” PCB spokesman Nadeem Sarwar told AFP.
Haider played one Test, against England at Birmingham last year, as well as four one-day and three Twenty20 internationals in a short career.
On his Facebook page Haider had also promised to name Pakistani players involved in match-fixing, but he never supplied the names.
British media reported that Haider was questioned by the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU), the International Cricket Council (ICC) wing that deals with match-fixing claims, in London last year but that the unit did not find anything substantive to back up his allegations.
Pakistani cricket was rocked by a corruption scandal last year when key players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were accused of spot-fixing during the Lord’s Test against England in August.
The three players were handed lengthy bans by the ICC in February this year.