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Sidhu defends hugging Pak Army chief

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‘Received lot of love from Pakistani people’

Lahore/Attari, Aug 19: Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu today said that he received a lot of love from Pakistani people and hoped there should be peace between India and Pakistan even as he also defended hugging Pakistan Army chief.

Sidhu, 54, was among the special guests present at the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s oath-taking ceremony at the Aiwan-e-Sadr (the President House) in Islamabad yesterday.

Khan, who captained the national cricket team to World Cup glory in 1992, had invited some of his former teammates and friends to witness his formal accession to the top ministerial job in the country.

Sidhu today arrived in Lahore where he was hosted by Punjab Governor-designate Chaudhry Sarwar.

Before leaving for the Wagah Border, Sidhu visited Taxali Gate near the Lahore Fort and bought some specially-made open shoes.

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 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.”

Back home, facing flak for hugging Pakistan’s Army chief at the swearing-in ceremony, Sidhu defended his action asking what was he supposed to do if someone says we belong to the same culture and talks of opening the route to the historic Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.

Sidhu, who returned from Pakistan via the Wagah-Attari border today, was the only Indian who attended Khan’s swearing-in ceremony at Islamabad yesterday. He was seen sitting next to Pakistan-administered-Kashmir (PaK) president Masood Khan and hugging Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Asked about hugging Bajwa, Sidhu told reporters here that “if someone (Pak Army chief) comes to me and says that we belong to the same culture and we’ll open the route to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib (in Pakistan) on first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev’s 550th birth anniversary, what else I could do?”

On the issue of his sitting next to the PaK chief in the front row at Imran Khan’s oath ceremony, the Congress leader replied, “If you are 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.”

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, a former army man, had today ticked off his Cabinet colleague Sidhu for hugging the Pakistan Army chief, terming the act as “wrong” while opposition parties, including the BJP, have also criticised the cricketer-turned politician.

Meanwhile, a handful of activists of an outfit named “Pagri Sambaal Jatta” held a protest close to the border when Sidhu arrived from Pakistan.

The activists holding placards against Sidhu also showed black flags to the minister’s cavalcade.

Kashmir Images is an English language daily newspaper published from Srinagar (J&K), India. The newspaper is one of the largest circulated English dailies of Kashmir and its hard copies reach every nook and corner of Kashmir Valley besides Jammu and Ladakh region.

Kashmir Images
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