Shamsher Chandel OPinionmakers@ The Hush Post| 9:15 am | three-minute-read
Sometime in 2004, Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was in love with Pakistan, and all about Pakistan, it seemed. He went to Pakistan three years after the Parliament attack and four years after Kargil war in which more than 500 Indian soldiers were killed.
The then CM of Pakistan’s Punjab Chaudhary Parvez Ehali gifted him a horse named Sultan, which was quarantined at Wagah due to rules and never reached India. Sultan was replaced by another stallion called Son of a Gun, which too stayed in Wagah.
Probably a couple of trips later, Capt Amarinder also met his ‘muse’ Pakistani journalist Aroosa Alam. Senior journalist Seema Mustafa calls her the first lady of Punjab.
But the former cricketer-turned-politician, Navjot Sidhu, who is now looked at as ‘vice-captain,’ is being targeted by the Akalis and some of his own team members, even though the accidental-hug which turned into a diplomatic one, got India the Kartarpur Sahib corridor for its Sikh brethren. Still, the captain doesn’t want to side with his ‘vice-captain.’ Probably politicians could learn a thing or two from people completely unschooled at diplomacy and conduct, we are talking about cricketers here. Remember the same vice-captain was seen hurling the Punjabi expletives at Pakistani opener Aamir Sohail during an India-Pakistan ODI cricket tie back in the 90s, which shut him up (Aamir Sohail) once and for all. And from the non-striking end, Sachin Tendulkar had to then calm down Sidhu to focus on the game.
Here the point of focus should have been Kartarpur Sahib corridor. And by criticising Sidhu, everybody, Congress and Akalis included, were indirectly and unintentionally scuttling the Kartarpur Sahib corridor.
Strangely though, there have been two conflicting appreciations within the Congress. Sunil Jakhar and Sukhjinder Randhawa publically appreciated what ‘Sidhu’s jadoo ki jhappi‘ did for the Sikhs and Punjabis, it opened doors to Kartarpur Sahib corridor, a huge-huge achievement. But the two have also appreciated Capt Amarinder’s decision of not going to Pakistan. Politics in a way is easy. Speak when it suits you, otherwise remain mum. Whenever the Aroosa-question came up in India, of course an unintelligent one, as unintelligent a question as to why did Sidhu hug Gen Bajwa, to remain mum is what most Congressmen choose to do.
Why talking about Aroosa is important?
Sidhu’s hug should hardly be a point of concern. If it is for the sake of opposing, it shouldn’t be for Captain at least. And here is why? Aroosa was a defence journalist from Pakistan, who has lived in Patiala. Her mother was very close to the Pakistan military establishment. She was so close that it earned her the moniker of Rani General.
What has changed in the last 14 years about Pakistan that Capt Amarinder Singh has suddenly started disliking anything to do with Pakistan, except one and no prizes for guessing it.
And here is what kept happening throughout the last one year on the sidelines of the tough stand taken by Capt Amarinder Singh. In April this year, he urged strengthening people-to-people ties with Pakistan, telling Pakistan’s envoy Sohail Mahmood that reviving games between the two Punjabs would help in this. Then he had presented his book on the Kargil War to the high commissioner. A Sidhu-Bajwa hug like controversy is not difficult to imagine, had the Pakistan High Commissioner forgotten the protocol and extended two open hands instead of one.