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Zulqarnain Haider says he wants to 'live in peace'

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Haider describes match-fixing death threats

Pakistan's refugee wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider is seeking asylum in the United Kingdom and has confirmed he is retiring from international cricket.

Haider fled from Dubai to London on Monday after receiving death threats when he refused to fix two matches.

"If your family was threatened, you would think like me," said the 24-year-old Haider in his first public event at a media conference in west London.

"I'm a cricket player. I want to be a good citizen, I want to live in peace."

Haider claimed he had been approached in Dubai by a person who asked him to fix the fourth and fifth games against South Africa, who went on to win Monday's deciding game to earn a 3-2 victory in the series.

"He said, 'If you work with us, we will give you a lot of money," said Haider. "'If not and you go back home, we will kill you and your family'."

Haider hit the winning runs in last Friday's fourth one-day win over South Africa but then left Pakistan's team hotel suddenly on the morning of the final match and flew to London.

Explaining why he had chosen to flee Dubai rather than taking his concerns to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Haider said: "I didn't want to explain all things to my management because if I tell them, maybe it would create problems for my team-mates."

Haider, who is assisting the International Cricket Council's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit, insisted he had no knowledge of any other players being involved in match-fixing or of any approaches made to them.

The wicketkeeper suggested that all players' phone calls should be recorded as a way to stamp out corruption.

Talking of his decision to seek asylum in Britain, Haider added: "This country is very humane, very co-operative, and there are very nice people here and there are very good rules here for my safety."

However Haider, who is holding a visitor's visa which will expire after one month, insists he has no intention of seeking financial help, adding: "I don't want any aid from the British government."

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Haider revealed he was due to have a meeting at Pakistan's High Commission in London on Wednesday evening, saying: "I wish they will protect my family because I have two daughters and a wife, so I want to be safe."

Pakistani cricket's governing body says it has been unable to contact Haider and has suspended his contract for violating its terms and conditions.

The PCB has also set up a three-strong committee to investigate how and why the player left the team.

Earlier on Wednesday, Pakistan sports minister Ijaz Hussain Jakhrani insisted that the government would not support any move from Haider to get asylum in the UK.

"We don't support his actions and believe he should have come to us if he was under threat from anyone," said Jakhrani.

"He didn't have confidence in the national team management or Pakistan Cricket Board. If he is such a weak and scared person he should not have played cricket in the first place, particularly not for the national team.

"This is not way for a member of the national team to behave or for even a professional cricketer to behave."

Speaking before Haider's media conference, former Pakistan captain Imran Khan said Haider's sudden exit to Britain to seek asylum was a "shameful" incident.

"Sadly, this incident only gives credence to the feeling our players are linked with bookmakers or are controlled by them. The recent spot-fixing allegations have not been helpful at all for Pakistan cricket."

Haider's flight to London on Monday came just a day after the ICC said how impressed it had been by the PCB's work on an anti-corruption code, a plan to regulate agents of its players and an improved education programme.

Three Pakistan players - batsman Salman Butt and pace bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif - have been suspended from all cricketing activities and are under investigation for alleged spot-fixing during the tour of England earlier this year.



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see also
Pakistan's year in crisis
09 Nov 10 |  Pakistan
Cricketer Haider may seek asylum
09 Nov 10 |  South Asia
South Africa win Pakistan decider
08 Nov 10 |  Cricket
Pakistan suspend trio's contracts
03 Nov 10 |  Pakistan
England finish off tarnished Test
29 Aug 10 |  England
Pakistan lose injured Zulqarnain
16 Aug 10 |  Pakistan
Pakistan v South Africa (in UAE) 2010
25 Nov 10 |  Cricket


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