Pakistan news December 24, 2010

No clear motives behind Haider flight - report

A fact-finding committee set-up by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to look into the flight of Zulqarnain Haider to the UK from Dubai has failed to find any clear motives behind his actions.

The three-member committee of Subhan Ahmed (COO, PCB), manager Intikhab Alam and security manager Khawaja Najam has ultimately recommended that the board "should write to Haider seeking complete written details of the entire episode and in light of those details [if received], may decide on whether to proceed with taking disciplinary action against him".

The board has already suspended the now retired wicketkeeper's central contract.

The committee's report, seen by ESPNcricinfo, is based on conversations the three members had with Haider and others from the squad. "It is difficult to say with complete confidence at this stage as to what were the motives [behind the departure]," it concludes. But one of its observations seemingly offers a hint: "Some close associates of Haider, when contacted in UK, advised that during his last visit to UK with Pakistan team this summer, he had made enquiries on settling down in UK."

Further light is also shed on events leading to his departure after claiming he was threatened by bookies during Pakistan's one-day series against South Africa last month.

For example, the night before he left, seamer Wahab Riaz had been in Haider's room till midnight. "His view was that Haider was normal and did not look worried," the report says. "He did not discuss anything with Wahab with whom he was quite friendly."

The report also confirms that Haider asked the team management for his passport on the pretext of buying a mobile SIM card on the eve of the fourth ODI, a game in which he subsequently played a late, key role in securing a win.

The last members of the squad to see Haider before his flight were the assistant manager Shahid Aslam and Younis Khan, who saw him walking out of his hotel room with a backpack on the morning of the fifth ODI. He told them he was going to visit relatives in the city.

According to the report, Haider told the committee that he received the first threat two days before the fourth ODI. "When he was walking in the parking area of the hotel, he met a person who said to him he must do what he is told to do in cricket else he and his family would be killed.

"He didn't recognize the person who had met him 2 days before the fourth ODI. He didn't see the person or hear from him afterwards."

What appears to have been the tipping point in convincing him to leave, however, came after that. "Later (he did not mention the date) he saw a note in his room which was on the hotel notepad on which some amounts and female names were mentioned." He has since handed over the note to Scotland Yard.

Though the investigation was mostly an exercise in fact-finding, certain questions are raised, echoing earlier concerns by the PCB. "It [his departure] was quite strange because Dubai is as safe a place as UK (perhaps safer), but Haider decided to travel to the UK rather than staying in Dubai or travelling to homeland Pakistan.

"It is also quite strange that in the presence of a full-time security manager of the team and the other PCB officials, Haider deemed it appropriate to approach the media rather than the PCB which is his employer."

Several ex-players and officials questioned Haider's state of mind immediately after he fled, a point the report touches on. "It may be noted that the views of some of the support staff about Haider were that he is a complex personality. He is a person who is easily convinced into believing whatever is said to him. He is also stated to be a weak nerves person."

Haider is still in the UK and is due to appear for another interview with asylum authorities on January 5, before reporting to the police on January 10th.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

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