In a dramatic statement, former Pakistan international Shoaib Akhtar claimed that his teammate, leg-spinner Danish Kaneria, was left out of the Pakistan cricket team due to him being a Hindu. Akhtar made this startling allegation on a television show titled 'Game On Hai' on the PTV Sports channel.
Now, the man himself, Kaneria, has lent his support to Akhtar's claim and has thanked the former fast bowler for his observations. The veteran of 61 Test matches said "Today, I saw the interview of the legendary bowler Shoaib Akhtar. I personally thank him for telling the truth.
"At the same time, I am grateful to all the players who supported me wholeheartedly as a cricketer. Also thankful to media, genuine cricket administrators, and citizens of Pakistan who supported me regardless of my religious affiliation," Kaneria told IANS.
Asking for help
He went further and stated that he is currently struggling in his life and needs the support of current Prime Minister of the country and cricket legend Imran Khan to escape his misery. But interestingly, he also asked "other countries" to help him out.
One wonders whether this reference to other countries is meant as an indirect reference to India which recently passed an act which allows citizens belonging to minority communities in South Asian countries including Pakistan to gain Indian citizenship in an easier way.
"My life is not in a good shape and I approached many individuals in Pakistan and around the world to resolve my issues. Yet, I have not received any help. Issues of many cricketers of Pakistan have been resolved though.
"I need support from all legendary players of Pakistan including honourable Prime Minister Imran Khan, cricket administrators of Pakistan and other countries to get me out of the mess. Please come forward and help me out," Kaneria told IANS.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been trying to make a strong case for the CAA, passed by its government latched on to this opportunity to buttress their argument. Its national spokesperson Amit Malviya tweeted after Akhtar's comments became known.
"If an international cricketer like Danish Kaneria is treated so badly for being a Hindu in Pakistan, one can only imagine the plight of ordinary non-Muslims in our Islamic neighbourhood. And if CAA gives them refuge in India, why should Muslims, Congress and Communist oppose it?"
Akhtar had gone to the extent of claiming that some members of the Pakistan team even objected to the leg-spinner taking food from the same vessels as them. This is quite shocking as Kaneria was Pakistan's leading spin bowler in the mid-noughties and picked up 261 wickets in his Test career.