The Shoaib-Ayesha controversy turned murkier on Sunday with the Pakistani cricketer claiming he was emotionally forced into the 'nikahnama' with the Hyderabad girl but said the marriage was invalid as her family had cheated him and ruled out divorce.
On a surprise visit to the city days before his marriage to tennis star Sania Mirza, Shoaib Malik distributed a press statement and also took a few questions from a battery of mediapersons outside Sania's house in posh Jubilee Hills. 28-year-old Shoaib will tie the knot with 23-year-old Sania on April 15 here and a reception will be held at the Taj Krishna the same day.
After days of flip-flop, Shoaib admitted to the 'nikahnama' but said it was invalid since the intention was to cheat. He said to this day he has not met the girl whose photographs were sent to him by the Siddiqui family purported to be that of Ayesha.
"Now they are asking for a divorce. To begin with there was no 'nikah' because they pressurised me into it with the intention to cheat. In Islam, there can only be a divorce if the 'nikah' is valid," he said.
Shoaib's statement comes two days after the Siddiqui family demanded that he gives an "official divorce" to 29-year-old Ayesha and appointed a lawyer to sue him in Pakistan.
"I was wrongly made to believe that the pictures Ayesha had sent me were of the girl I was marrying. I feel terrible about the mess created by a family that has caused a great grief to my own people and the family of my bride-to-be," he said.
Shoaib also said he had met Ayesha a number of times but knew her as 'Maha apa', elder sister of Ayesha and never got to actually meet the girl in the photographs sent to him.
The Pakistani cricketer said it was only by accident that he got to know that Maha apa and Ayesha were the same girl.
"We accidentally ran into the truth about who Ayesha was. It was the worst moment of my life. No one enjoys being made a fool of and that was exactly how I was made to look. It happened in August 2005. My brother-in-law got a photograph of a teacher in Saudi Arabia who was telling people around her that she was married to me. His nephews were studying in that school.
"I was aghast when he showed me the photograph of the teacher. The woman in it was the person I called 'Maha apa'. I immediately confronted 'Maha apa'. It was she who had been making a full of me all these years, pretending to be the person whose pictures she had been sending me. I told her I didn't even want to speak to her again. At that point I wondered if I could ever trust anyone again."
The Pakistani cricketer began the two-page statement by saying that he wanted to clarify "wrongly reported facts" in newspapers and television channels both in India and Pakistan.
"I want to make my position clear especially because I'm to wed Sania Mirza in the near future," he said.