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Page last updated at 18:03 GMT, Wednesday, 7 April 2010 19:03 UK

Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik 'divorces first wife'

Sania Mirza and Shoaib Malik
The stars' love match has been clouded by controversy

Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik's marriage to Indian tennis star Sania Mirza is back on track after he reportedly divorced another woman.

Community elders in the Indian city of Hyderabad helped broker the divorce in talks that went on through the night.

The family of Malik's first wife Ayesha Siddiqui have now withdrawn charges against him over his wedding plans.

There was no immediate comment from Malik or Mirza. He had accused the Siddiqui family of deceiving him.

He also alleged that the marriage certificate presented by the family had been a fake.

The unusual cross-border romance has captivated the people of India and Pakistan, long-time rivals.

'Honourable exit'

Malik arrived in Hyderabad, where both women live, on Saturday ahead of his marriage to Sania Mirza which is planned for 15 April.

Divorce papers have been signed - the settlement is done
Farisa, mother of Ayesha Siddiqui

On Monday, police questioned him after Ayesha Siddiqui, an Indian Muslim woman, said she was already married to him.

They seized his passport and told him to stay in India until they had investigated the matter.

Wednesday saw the drama take a new twist.

Community elder Imran Qadri told reporters that after prolonged deliberations between the two families and community elders, Malik had granted a divorce to Ayesha Siddiqui, thus admitting he had married her.

"It has been an honourable exit for both sides," Mr Qadri said.

Ayesha Siddiqui's mother, Farisa, said: "Justice has been done. Ayesha is relieved and very happy.

"My daughter's wish is granted - she wanted divorce without any monetary settlement. I am very happy that finally Shoaib granted her the divorce."

Malik had earlier said he met Ms Siddiqui on the internet and married her over the telephone, which is valid under Islamic law.

But he claimed that the photographs she had sent him were of someone else and therefore his marriage was illegal.

Sania Mirza, 23, and Shoaib Malik, 28, announced their wedding last week. The tennis star broke off a previous engagement earlier this year.

While celebrations will be held in both countries, the couple plan to live in Dubai and will continue to represent their respective countries in international sporting ties.



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