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Sidhu hugs Pak Army chief, sits next to PaK prez

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Srinagar, Aug 18: Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu was allotted a seat next to the President of Pakistan-administered-Kashmir (PaK) Masood Khan, during the swearing-in ceremony of newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan. Khan took oath as Pakistan’s 22nd Prime Minister.

At the event, instead of seating Congress leader Sidhu with other foreign dignitaries, the Pakistan government positioned him next to Masood Khan in the Aiwan-e-Sadr Hall of President’s House. Earlier, Sidhu and Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa were spotted hugging each other at the President House before the ceremony began.

Before entering the President House, Sidhu said: “People like Khan Sahab (Imran Khan) create history. With this invitation, they have honoured me. People who build relationships are respected, people who break them are disrespected and I am one of those who respect relationships. It’s a new dawn. This government has come to change this country’s perception, picture and destiny, with high hopes and expectations.”

Sidhu, who is also a minister in the Congress-led Punjab government, on Friday said that he sees himself as “a goodwill ambassador of India.” During a press conference on August 2, Sidhu highlighted that the invitation extended to him was in personal capacity.

Meanwhile, back home the opposition in Punjab today targeted Sidhu for attending the swearing-in ceremony and asked whether it was necessary to visit Pakistan at a time when India was mourning the demise of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Sidhu's hug with Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the ceremony also came under fire with the opposition parties asking him whether he remembered the sacrifices made by the Indian soldiers at the border at that time.

"Sidhu's visit to Pakistan is shameful," said Punjab BJP chief Shwait Malik.

"On one side, the Pakistan army was involved in attacking our soldiers at the border and on the other side Sidhu was hugging the Army chief. Does it mean he was thanking him for killing our soldiers?" he asked.

Malik dubbed Sidhu as an "opportunist" and accused him of putting the nation's dignity at risk.

The BJP leader demanded an apology from him for the "unacceptable act."

The Shiromani Akali Dal said Sidhu broke the "decorum" by visiting Pakistan.

"The whole nation is observing seven-day mourning in the wake of the death of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. At this point of time, it becomes necessary that no minister should attend ceremonial functions. By visiting Pakistan, Sidhu has broken the decorum," said SAD spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema.

He said Sidhu's hugging of Bajwa, who was sitting next to president of Pakistan-administered-Kashmir (PaK) Masood Khan, has sent a "wrong message" to Indian armed forces.

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