Ijaz pleads innocence in forgery case

Ijaz Ahmed is surrounded by reporters at a police station Associated Press

Former Pakistan cricketer and national team fielding coach Ijaz Ahmed has said he is innocent and has vowed to defend himself in court after being arrested for allegedly issuing false cheques to a client. He was due to appear in a court in Lahore on Friday but was taken to hospital after his health deteriorated.

"I have not done anything wrong," Ijaz told AFP. "The police have mistreated me and I am in hospital after an attack of asthma. I will defend myself in the court once my condition gets stable. I vomited blood and experienced difficulty in breathing, so doctors put me on artificial respiratory system for sometime.

"It has been very frustrating because I have not done anything wrong. These clients owe me money and instead they made a false case against me."

Pakistan police on Thursday had arrested and charged Ijaz Ahmed with alleged forgery. Police officials at the Gulberg police station in Lahore said two property dealers had filed a complaint against Ijaz, 40, for issuing them cheques that had bounced.

The value of the cheques is reportedly Rs 10.05 million (approximately US$1.3 million). "This is a land scam case under which Ijaz was on bail. His bail expired on Thursday and we arrested him on charges of giving false cheques to a business party," police official Rana Jabbar said.

However, former Pakistan captain Saleem Malik, who is also Ijaz's brother-in-law, denied that his former team-mate had committed any wrongdoing. "The truth is that these property dealers owe money to Ijaz and they have registered a false case against him," Malik told Reuters.

Ijaz played 60 Tests and 250 ODIs and was a member of the Pakistan team that won the 1992 World Cup. Following his retirement from international cricket, he had been working as the fielding coach of the national team for the last few months. Previously, he was on the selection committee and had also served as senior coach at the National Cricket Academy.