MUMBAI, June 12: Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Asif, languishing in a jail in Dubai for almost two weeks now since getting caught at the airport for allegedly carrying a banned substance in his wallet, is hoping to be a free person pretty soon.
Talking to this correspondent exclusively on Tuesday through a ‘pay phone system’ available inside the jail premises, Asif surprisingly sounded quite relaxed, considering the ordeal he went through.
“I have made a few friends here. We chat most of the time,” said Asif while referring to some of the Pakistanis and Indians who are also detained at the airport for various reasons.
“There is a prayer room and we offer prayers at various times during the day. My conscience is clear and Insha Allah, I hope to be free soon.”
The lanky pacer admitted that he was dying to watch his colleagues play India but couldn’t since there was no television set inside the detention centre.
“No I have not been able to watch the Pakistan-India match. There is no TV set here and the morning papers are the only source of getting news in the centre,” he said. “Due to language problems, it has become very cumbersome to deal with the authorities. They speak Arabic and don’t understand a word of Urdu or even English.”
Answering a question about his future with Pakistan cricket, Asif jokingly said that he would take up football in case he is banned by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
He, however, clearly shied away from answering questions about the hakeem whose ‘medicine’ landed him in a soup.
Here it must be mentioned that Asif’s interview over telephone to this correspondent was made possible solely due to the efforts of two airport security officials. They disclosed that Asif was forced to surrender his mobile phone at the time of his arrest.
Agencies add: The Dubai Attorney General is likely to take up the case of detained pacer Asif on Sunday and may perhaps even deliver a verdict on the same day, according to the Pakistan embassy there.
Dismissing media reports that Asif might be deported on Friday, a senior official of the embassy in Dubai said, “I think if any decision was taken to deport him, we would know about it.”
He said the embassy had designated a consular to follow the case and assist Asif. “There has been no development on the Asif front as yet and we are expecting the Attorney-General to handle the case on Sunday after going through the prosecutor’s report,” the official said.
‘‘Maybe he might even take a decision the same day on whether to charge Asif or release or deport him,” he added.
The PCB is under immense pressure over the case with a top ranking official of the International Cricket Council also writing to Chairman Dr Nasim Ashraf, asking for details of the case and what the PCB anti-doping regulations said on such a matter. The board has avoided confirming or denying the ICC letter.
The ICC itself is under pressure from the World Anti-Doping Agency to push the board to take some strong action against Asif as the recovery of drugs from his possession has been confirmed.