Govt for "toughest action" but to probe conspiracy angle

Malik said that there had been conspiracies against Pakistan cricket team in the past and it was thus necessary to verify whether the new allegations too were part of a conspiracy.

"This incident should not have happened. We want to ascertain if there is any conspiracy against the team or to defame Pakistan. We know that there have been conspiracies against Pakistan in the past - we will consider that angle also. We want to get the facts and get them exonerated," he told reporters in Karachi.

He, however, said even the Prime Minister has expressed concern over the allegations and if they were proven, "toughest action" will be taken against those involved. "I have spoken to (Sports Minister Ijaz Hussain) Jakhrani and whole leadership is agreed that if any player is found involved, we will make an example out of him," Malik said after chairing a meeting during which he and Jakhrani reviewed the 'spot-fixing' scandal.

Malik said the government is yet to send a Federal Investigation Agency team to London and this will be done only after receiving a report of British authorities probing the allegations against Pakistani cricketers.

He pointed out that the main investigation is being conducted by authorities in Britain, where the alleged incident had occurred, and FIA would not be able to carry out a probe there without permission.

"The Interior Secretary had spoken to the Scotland Yard's liaison officer in Islamabad and sought details of the information on the basis of which the British police had conducted raids and launched an investigation. The FIA chief too had contacted British authorities through Interpol," Malik said.

"We expect their reply very soon. If needed, a team will go for fact-finding and for interaction with Scotland Yard. We have written to Scotland Yard for this through Interpol and whenever it is convenient for them, our team will go," he said.

Asked if the secretly filmed video footage made public by the tabloid 'News of the World' was not enough for action to be taken against the cricketers, Malik said the evidence "needs to be tested" as there was a difference between a "journalistic and a criminal inquiry".

"The video may be fabricated, so we apppeal to the public to please wait for two-three daysWe will believe it only when we have authentic proof which can stand the test in court. I am not denying anything. We have nothing now, only hearsay," said Malik.

"We would like to wait for a couple of days and take a decision after going through the report made by the British police. Once we get the report from them we will give it to the Sports Ministy. We will go through the report and it will be re-assessed. We have to see what materials the report has," he added.

Jakhrani said that the allegations were particularly shocking as they had come a time when the country's four provinces had been hit by the worst flood in decades. "This incident has happened at a time when the country is facing an environmental challenge. This country love cricket and this is a bad news for the cricket lovers here. We are coordinating with the Interior Ministry," he said.

"No charges has been framed against the cricketers yet. We will see what charges are being framed against them and after considering the report we will decide the further course of action," he added.

The 'spot-fixing' scandal broke out when British tabloid 'News of the World' claimed that its undercover reporters had paid fixer Majeed 150,000 pounds (USD 230,000) for advance details of three no-balls in the fourth Test as part of a sting operation.

Majeed, a 35-year-old agent for several Pakistan players, was arrested by police but was released on bail later. Scotland Yard questioned Pakistan captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Aamir and Mohammad Asif, who bowled the no-balls, and their mobile phones were seized.

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