I want to clarify a few wrongly reported facts about me in some sections of the media, newspapers and television channels in India and Pakistan.
I want to make my position clear especially because I am to wed Sania Mirza in the near future.
Ayesha first started calling me on the telephone when I was in Sharjah with the Pakistan cricket team in 2001. On the phone, she introduced herself as my fan. She said, she was living in Saudi Arabia.
Gradually, we started speaking every day. Naturally, I wanted to meet her. Every time I brought up the topic of meeting she would send me a bunch of photographs. I was made to believe the girl in the photograph was the one I was speaking to.
The truth is, I haven’t, to this day, met the girl in the photographs Ayesha sent me.
We had become close, thanks to the telephone conversations. In 2002, I came to Hyderabad specifically to meet Ayesha. Just before I left Pakistan, she told me she had to rush to Saudi Arabia on urgent work and her cousins -- Reema and Maha apa (meaning older sister) -- would take me around. I waited in Hyderabad for five days, hoping she would return. I finally asked her family where she was and they said, that in the last year she had put on a lot of weight, because of which she didn’t want to meet me until she could shed some of that. I told them I had photographs of her and that she wasn’t fat, but they told me those were older photographs.
Ayesha wanted us to get married. She had been talking about it for some time, saying we would only meet at our shaadi. In 2002, she told me that people in Hyderabad were talking about our relationship, and it was putting her parents in an embarrassing position. She also told me she was feeling insecure. She wanted us to have a telephone Nikah to stop the talk. I knew that my parents wouldn’t agree to a telephone Nikah. They wanted to celebrate my wedding, and so did I.
I wanted to marry Ayesha, but I was too young, I was only 20 years then. There was a lot of pressure on me from Ayesha. I called her from a friend’s shop in June 2002. I got a nikahnama, signed it, thinking the girl I was marrying was the one in the photographs. I wasn’t happy doing this, because I hadn’t told my parents, and was emotionally forced to do it.
A year or so later, I travelled to Hyderabad in the hope of meeting her, but once again it was the same story. Ayesha told me on the phone that she still hadn’t lost the weight she put on so didn’t want to meet me. I was met by Maha apa and Reema, who took me around again.
In 2004, my brother-in-law travelled to Hyderabad to meet Ayesha and her family, and again the same story was repeated, so he returned without meeting Ayesha. At that point, I was a little flustered, because none of us were able to meet her. It was I who had requested my brother-in-law to travel to India and meet Ayesha and her family as I was keen to take the relationship forward, formally.
Later that year, I was here in Hyderabad with the Pakistan cricket team. Mr M.A. Siddiqui invited the team to his house for dinner. I was hoping to meet Ayesha there, but the girl in the photographs wasn’t at the dinner. The same story was told to me again. I just couldn’t understand what was happening.
In a practice game, the next day, I won the man-of-the-match award. Later, I said that I was happy this was happening in my wife’s city. Even though I hadn’t met her even once, we were constantly talking to each other over the telephone. I always wanted to support her. That was how I felt, despite everything.
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 fool of me all these years, pretending to be the person whose pictures she had been sending me. I told her I didn’t ever want to speak to her again. At that point I wondered if I could ever trust anyone again.
I told Ayesha I was going to release the photographs she had been mailing me to the media. She apologised and told me that the other girl was married and that I would ruin her life if I released those pictures. I thought about it, whosoever is in that photograph, probably doesn’t even know about all this, and it wouldn’t be fair to release those pictures.
In 2008 my lawyer sent a legal notice to Mr M.A. Siddiqui, who had been feeding the media with false and fabricated stories about me. After that he stopped making false allegations against me, until of course, news of my marriage to Sania Mirza became public.
Now, they’re 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. 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 great grief to my own people and the family of my bride to be.
I’m confident, however, that the truth will prevail.
Source: Deccan Chronicle