Sydney: Pakistan-born leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed has spoken of the death threats and intimidation he received before fleeing to Australia and getting a fairytale chance to play in the Ashes series in England starting this month.
Ahmed, 31, was granted Australian citizenship this week and could now feature in nation's effort to reclaim the Ashes, starting in Nottingham on Thursday.
The cricketer opened up about his experiences in an interview published Saturday about how he was forced to flee in 2009 after receiving death threats from extremists in his native Pakistan for his perceived promotion of Western values, and for helping an NGO that championed women's education, health and vaccinations.
"I got seriously threatened by those people. They terrorized me and they made death threats to me. They don't like to educate women. They want the people in the dark so that they can dominate them easily," Ahmed, who sought asylum in Australia, said in an interview.
He said the atmosphere had deteriorated in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, near the Afghanistan border, where he lived with his family, since the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001.
"Things are going from worse to worse, especially in the past five or six years," Ahmed said.
"Things have become extremely bad. People are suffering and especially the poor people. People are dying for nothing. Car bomb blasts, target killing, insurgencies. Especially where I was living. Those areas are now the ones in the red zone," Ahmed said.
He said when he began a professional cricket career at age 23 with Abbottabad and began to coach women cricketers.
"The terrorists would come straight to my face and say, 'Step down from what you are doing otherwise you will see a serious problem later on'," he said.
"I got an opportunity to play for my state in Islamabad, but they still keep following me, keep threatening me, texting me and saying, 'You are still helping those people and when we find you we will seriously harm you',” Ahmed said.


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