Haider seeks UK asylum after contract suspended

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The Independent Online

Zulqarnain Haider, the Pakistan wicketkeeper who fled to Britain after receiving alleged threats over his refusal to take part in match-fixing, is believed to have officially asked for asylum because he feels his life would be in danger back home.

Haider made his application as his family back in Pakistan have been put under police protection. He is said to have felt that he would not receive the support of his country's authorities in exposing corruption in the sport.

The 24-year-old, who had his contract with the Pakistan Cricket Board suspended yesterday for "violating its terms and conditions", flew from Dubai to London on Monday and announced that he had retired from international cricket. The following day he appeared to have carried out a U-turn, saying that he was prepared to play for the national team again and was ready to return to Pakistan.

However Haider, who has met officials from the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption unit, is said to have become concerned by comments made by Pakistan's sports minister, Ijaz Hussain Jakhrani, who accused him publicly of being a "weak and scared person" and being anti-patriotic.

An associate of Haider said yesterday that the minister's comments had reinforced the cricketer's view that the authorities in his country were unwilling to confront the problem of corruption and sought, instead, to silence him.

The Pakistan High Commission in London says that its staff have been unable to contact Haider.