Minister: Pakistan government will not support Haider

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The Independent Online

Zulqarnain Haider, the Pakistan cricketer who retired from international cricket after receiving death threats, has been branded "weak" by his country's sports minister.

Ijaz Hussain Jakhrani insists the Pakistan government will not support Haider's asylum application in the UK, and hit out at the 24-year-old for damaging Pakistan's image.

Jakhrani's comments come after Haider sought refuge in London having fled the Pakistan team hotel in Dubai just hours before the fifth and final one-day international against South Africa in the United Arab Emirates.

Haider abandoned the squad after apparently receiving threats over his part in Pakistan's victory in the fourth ODI, in which he hit the winning runs.

"The government will not support any move from Zulqarnain to get asylum in the UK," Jakhrani told reporters.

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

"He didn't have confidence in the national team management or [Pakistan Cricket Board]."

Jakhrani added: "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."

The Pakistan Cricket Board have launched their own inquiry into the events leading up to Haider's abscondment, and Jakhrani confirmed the government would be asking the PCB to submit a report on the incident.

"We don't want to interfere in the internal matters of the board but we certainly want to know why this has happened as it affects the image of the country," Jakhrani said.

"But no doubt this incident has disappointed us.

"Zulqarnain should have come to us for help."

The Haider story took another twist last night when it emerged the player had told a television news channel he was prepared to play for his country again provided they could guarantee his safety.

Pakistani network Geo News carried the contradictory quotes from the player, who suggested he was not looking to make his stay in the UK permanent and would be prepared to play for his country again provided the PCB were willing and able to accommodate him and his assurances of safety.

"The (UK) border agency has taken my fingerprints and issued me a temporary stay," Haider told

"I had no intentions of applying for political asylum at this stage and, if the Pakistan government is ready to give me assurance of security for me and my family, I am ready to return to Pakistan.

"I have no issues playing for Pakistan again provided the Pakistan Cricket Board wants me to play."