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June 3, 2008
The Pakistan Cricket Board is hoping to bring Mohammad Asif back to Pakistan as soon as possible from Dubai where he is detained, though they admit they are still in the dark about the case.
Asif was detained by officials at the airport Sunday morning, according to Nadeem Akram, a senior PCB official, for possessing a contraband drug in his wallet. That sample has now been sent for tests and a meeting is underway between Asif's lawyer and the public prosecutor.
"Asif was detained on Sunday," Shafqat Naghmi, the board's chief operating officer, said while addressing a press conference at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. "We don't have all the details right now about why he was. Authorities in Dubai are still investigating. We do know that it was about something Asif had in his possession. But we stress that no charges have yet been laid against him."
Naghmi said the board was hoping the case was a mistake of some kind, but owing to the gravity of the situation, the Pakistan Embassy in Dubai had been alerted. "We hope this has been some sort of mistake, but we have appointed legal counsel there from one of the best firms in Dubai.
"The embassy has also been contacted. Nadeem Akram has been there since that night. We are just hoping that Asif gets back as soon as possible, hopefully in time for the Bangladesh tri-series."
Dubai's laws on drug possession are among the strictest in the world and Naghmi warned that if Asif was found guilty, he would have to be dealt with according to the laws of the land. "The UAE government has a very straight procedure. If something is found in your possession an investigation begins straightaway. If he is found to be in possession, then he will be treated according to their laws."
If Asif does get out of the situation, it is inconceivable that he will not face any disciplinary action from the Pakistan board, though Naghmi said that wasn't the priority right now. "First we just want him to be back in Pakistan. Only after he gets back and the situation is clearer will we look at that possibility and see. Right now there is no charge-sheet against him."
Speculation has predictably buzzed since the news broke, though Naghmi stressed that it was just that and nothing more. One local channel Express News claimed to have spoken to Asif, who said that he had been implicated after getting into a drunken brawl with security officers at the airport. This was denied to Cricinfo by Akram, as well as Naghmi during the press conference.
"This is all just speculation. We cannot hide stuff like this and remember there is no chargesheet yet. I have been told that what was found was some medicine given to him by a local Pakistani Hakeem."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.