Karachi: Banned Pakistan pacer Mohammad Asif, who was released from jail last week, has described his former roommate Salman Butt as a "lonely and depressed man" anxiously waiting to be released from prison after completing his 30-month sentence for spot-fixing. "Salman and I were sharing the same room for three months in the prison and he wished me good luck on the day of my release," Asif told 'Dawn' newspaper on Sunday. "But he (Salman) is a lonely man and looked very depressed on the day of my release from jail. He has been quite miserable at times and is anxiously awaiting his release," he added.
Asif was released last Friday after completing a 12-month sentence for his role in the spot-fixing scandal that broke out on Pakistan team's tour to England in 2010. Before Asif, young pacer Mohammad Amir was also released from jail earlier this year after he completed his six month term.
The Southwark crown court in London had last October handed out different jail terms to Butt, Asif and Amir after finding them guilty of spot fixing and corruption. The trio is also serving a minimum five year ban from the anti-corruption tribunal of the International Cricket Council for the same offence.
Only former captain Salman Butt now remains in prison with Pakistani bookmaker, Mazhar Majeed who was also given a jail term in the spot fixing scandal. According to the report, the prison in Canterbury is a men's prison which has an arrangement, which allows two foreign nationals in the same room.
Asif, who has vowed to get the ICC ban overturned and has also proclaimed his innocence in the case, said he and Butt shared a room because there were very few Muslims in the prison. "We both were first asked whether we could share the same room," recalled Asif. "We immediately agreed. Having a non-Muslim room partner could have made life difficult for both me and Salman," he added.
Asif also played down reports of differences and ill feeling between him and Salman Butt after the two accused each other during the trial held at the Southwark court. He said, in fact, the bond between the two grew stronger in prison. "No, there were no ill-feelings between us. In fact, we were like two brothers in the prison," said Asif. "Both of us were made gym in-charge where we played badminton and football."
Asif said he used to speak to his family over telephone from the prison but none of his family members afforded to visit the jail. However, he said the family members of the suspended Pakistan captain Salman did pay visits to the prison. "Every month in the jail, Salman's wife (Gul), his elder son and mother paid a visit there," said Asif. "But his younger son has been denied visa again and therefore he could not see him," he added.