The Pakistani cricket spot-fixing scandal is an Indian conspiracy, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Britain, said on Friday, after the International Cricket Council (ICC), invoking its anti-corruption code, provisionally suspended the tainted trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammed Aamer from playing international cricket.
Hasan declared the ICC had “no business” to suspend the players when a police investigation was still in progress, adding ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat reached his decision soon after a telephonic talk with Sharad Pawar, ICC president.
“I heard him (Lorgat) talking to Pawar. I don’t know what transpired between them but immediately after that, he left my office and prepared a five-page notice and handed it to the players,” said Hasan. “There seems to be a conspiracy to keep Pakistan out.”
In a separate interview to an Indian news channel, Hasan also claimed the three players under the scanner had been “taken for a ride” by the alleged bookie Mazhar Majeed — whose revelations during the sting operation by a UK tabloid sparked off the controversy — who in turn had strong connections with Indian bookies.
"The British press says 'Asian bookies' but if they were from Pakistan they (the British media) would have called them Pakistanis, which means some Indian bookies are involved in it. This Majeed allegedly defrauded these Indian bookies and so the newspaper investigated him through their sources," Hasan told NDTV.
"I cannot understand how Pakistan’s High Commissioner in London has come to this incorrect conclusion,” Pawar responded to HT from New York. “The fact that Haroon (Lorgat) is regularly briefing me is true, because that is the normal way of conducting business, with the chief executive briefing the president.”
Lorgat too responded sharply to Hasan’s allegations. “The very reason I met High Commissioner Wajid Hasan was to give a clear indication that we are coming to a conclusion and that we will be serving a notice,” said Lorgat. “I differ with his interpretation of the meet.”
Explaining the suspension, ICC’s anti-corruption boss Sir Ronnie Flanagan said it did not imply the ICC considered the three guilty. “They [Butt, Asif and Amir] have a really arguable case to answer in our disciplinary arena but that is not the same as coming, in any sense, to a finding of guilt on their behalf,” he said.
The players now have 14 days in which to ask for a hearing from the ICC, which then has to be convened within three months.