Wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider returns to Pakistan

April 25th, 2011 - 7:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi, April 25 (IANS) Zulqarnain Haider, Pakistan’s runaway wicketkeeper, returned home Monday and is now looking forward to resuming national duty.

Haider, who rocked Pakistan cricket by fleeing from Abu Dhabi to London last November just hours before Pakistan’s One-day International against South Africa, told reporters in Islamabad that he will soon be meeting Ijaz Butt, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, to “give him an explanation” on his decision to “abandon the Pakistan team.”

“I will be meeting with the chairman of the board soon to resolve this issue and convey my point of view,” he said.

Haider justified his decision to flee to Britain, where he applied for asylum before withdrawing his application last week, saying that his life was in danger following threats from match-fixers.

Haider has been accused of tarnishing Pakistan’s image but the Lahore-based player, who landed in Islamabad on his return from London Monday morning, insisted that he did the right thing.

“I had a bright future with the Pakistan team when I took the decision to leave for Britain. No sensible person would sacrifice his career like this without any reason,” he said. “I had my reasons for doing what I did. I have conveyed my issues to the authorities.”

Soon after he arrived at the Islamabad airport, Haider was whisked away by security officials.

The wicketkeeper later met with Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik and other top officials in Islamabad.

“I came back after the minister assured me about the security and safety of myself and my family,” Haider said.

Last week, he revoked his application for asylum in Britain after meeting Malik in London.

“I spoke to Zulqarnain by telephone and reassured him he and his family will be perfectly safe in Pakistan,” Malik said.

The minister added that Scotland Yard is looking into the death threats Haider claimed to have received last week.

The PCB, which terminated Haider’s contract and held back his match fees soon after he left the team hotel, said he will have to go through a disciplinary process for breaching the players’ code of conduct and his contractual obligations by leaving the team without informing the management.

“He has just returned home and the PCB will hear him out before deciding whether the player deserves to be considered for national duty again,” a source told IANS.

“But chances that Haider will get any early recall are very slim.”

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