Sidhu, a Cabinet minister in Capt Amarinder Singh govt, was seen seated next to PoK “President” Masood Khan
Sharat K Verma, The Hush Post: While his former party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is baying for the blood of Navjot Singh Sidhu for his hug with Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa during the swearing-in ceremony of Imran Khan as Pakistan’s prime minister, his present party, Congress, has completely dissociated itself from the Pakistan visit of the cricketer-turned-politician.
Sidhu was the only cricketer from India when Imran Khan took the oath of office and secrecy that was administered by Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain. Imran Khan had also invited his two contemporary Indian cricketers Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev but the two did not attend Khan’s swearing-in ceremony citing prior engagements.
At Khan’s oath-taking ceremony, Sidhu was seated next to the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) “President” Masood Khan. And just before the ceremony, Sidhu hugged Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Sidhu was wearing a blue suit and a pink turban during the ceremony held at the Aiwan-e-Sadr (the President House) in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad.
Meanwhile, in India, Punjab BJP President Shwait Malik condemned his former party colleague Navjot Sidhu accusing him of hugging the chief of Pakistan’s army that was responsible for beheading Indian soldiers. “Now, Sidhu should also meet the head of Pakistan’s notorious spy agency ISI,” Malik said taking a jibe at Sidhu.
Another BJP leader Tarun Chugh also criticised Punjab Cabinet minister Sidhu for hugging Pakistan army chief Bajwa. “Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev are more senior to Sidhu and they are more close to Imran Khan than Sidhu but they did not go to Pakistan to attend Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony in the national interest,” Chugh said.
On the other hand, Sidhu’s present party Congress has totally dissociated itself from his Pakistan visit.
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) President and Gurdaspur MP Sunil Jakhar said that it is Navjot Sidhu’s personal visit to Pakistan for his friend Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony and the Punjab government and the Congress have nothing to do with it.
Another Congress leader Asha Kumar, who is party’s Punjab affairs in-charge, also said that Sidhu has gone to attend Imran Khan’s oath-taking ceremony as a cricketer and Khan’s friend and not as a Congress leader.
But, J&K Congress Chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir said: “He (Navjot Sidhu) is a responsible person and a minister. Only he can explain, but yes he could have avoided this.”
Meanwhile, while addressing a press conference in Pakistan, Navjot Sidhu said that when the Pakistan army Chief Gen Bajwa hugged him, the latter told him that next year on the 550 anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev the Pakistan government is considering of opening the passage to Guru Nanak’s birthplace in Pakistan.