Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was under attack by the Opposition for hugging Pakistan Army Chief at the swearing-in ceremony of Imran Khan, on Sunday defended himself, saying that his act should not be seen in the wrong light.
On being asked why he sat beside President of PoK Masood Khan during the oath-taking ceremony, the Punjab minister who returned to Indian on Sunday told ANI that he did so because he was asked to. “If you’re invited as a guest of honour somewhere, you sit wherever you are asked to. I was sitting somewhere else but they asked me to sit there,” he told ANI at Wagah border in Amritsar.
On hugging Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Sidhu said: “If someone (Bajwa) comes to me and says that we belong to the same culture and we’ll open Kartarpur border on Guru Nanak Dev’s 550th Prakash Parv, what else I could do?”.
Navjot Singh Sidhu returns to India after attending the oath-taking ceremony of Imran Khan as Pakistan Prime Minister in Islamabad yesterday; #Visuals from Attari-Wagah border pic.twitter.com/zUMRGPSQon
— ANI (@ANI) August 19, 2018
Earlier, Sidhu had told media in Pakistan that he had been assured by Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa that serious steps would be taken to open corridor for Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
Before crossing over to India from the Wagah Border, Sidhu said he received a lot of love from the people of Pakistan. “I am overwhelmed by the love I received here,” he said and expressed his wish that there should be peace between the two countries.
To a question about the revival of cricketing ties between India and Pakistan, he said: “I am in favour of resuming cricketing ties. It is a good idea if IPL and PSL winners have a clash.”
Non-Congress parties, including BJP, had called Sidhu’s attending the ceremony as shameful. Sidhu is the only Indian to attend Khan’s swearing-in ceremony. He was seen sitting next to PoK chief and hugging Bajwa at the event.
The BJP hit out at Sidhu for his “deplorable act” of hugging Pakistan Army chief and asked Rahul Gandhi if he would suspend the leader for doing so. Speaking at a press conference, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) President Masood Khan was seated next to Sidhu but the latter did not object to it.
The Congress, however, downplayed the matter. Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala did not reply to a question on the Punjab minister embracing Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the event.
#WATCH: Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh reacts on #NavjotSinghSidhu hugging Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa during Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony yesterday, says ‘It was wrong for him to have shown the affection towards the Pakistan Army Chief’ pic.twitter.com/WcVSYcqGlN
— ANI (@ANI) August 19, 2018
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said today that he was not in favour of Sidhu hugging Pakistan Army Chief. “But as far as hugging the Pakistan Army Chief is concerned I am not in its favour. It was wrong for him to have shown the affection towards the Pakistan Army Chief,” he tod ANI.