Karachi: Tainted former Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt has expressed surprise at his one time teammate Danish Kaneria's claim that he was humiliated for being a Hindu player after former fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar raked up the controversy.
"I am surprised by Kaneria's comments. Because I was in the team from 2003 to 2010 and played a lot of matches with Kaneria and not once did I ever see anyone disrespecting or harassing him for being a Hindu," Butt said.
Last month, Akhtar sparked a furore when he said that Kaneria was humiliated by some players because he was a Hindu, was not given due credit and some even refused to eat food with him because of his faith.
Kaneria admitted that there were a "few players" who targetted him for being a Hindu during his time with the national team but he never felt the urge or the pressure to change his religion.
Butt, who served a five-year ban for spot-fixing, said every effort was made to ensure Kaneria had full freedom as his playing for Pakistan painted a very good image of Pakistan cricket.
"Kaneria being the only Hindu player in the side was a big plus for Pakistan cricket and in fact, I know for a fact that the captains made a point to ensure that Kaneria was made to feel comfortable in the team," he said.
Butt said he never saw Kaneria feeling uncomfortable or upset over anything.
"No doubt, he is a top bowler and served us well, winning us many matches. But I was surprised when he seconded Shoaib Akhtar's comments on him being ill-treated in the team and did not deny them," said the former Test opener.
"If anything I would ask Shoaib and Danish to both name those players who they claim mistreated Danish," Butt said.
Pakistan's former manager and coach Haroon Rasheed also denied that Kaneria was ill-treated in the team because he was a Hindu.
"Nothing of that sort happened and I always ensured that religion was never made an issue in the team. Everyone was equal and treated fairly."
Akmal brothers, Kamran and Umar, who played with Kaneria in the Pakistan team, also denied there was any incident where the leg-spinner was targeted for being a Hindu or humiliated.
"In the Pakistan team, everyone is a Pakistan player. I don't recall a single time when anyone tried to ill-treat Kaneria because of his religion," Kamran said.
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