NEW DELHI, Aug 19:
Cricketer-turned-politician and Congress Minister in Punjab Navjot Singh Sidhu on Sunday defended his Pakistan visit to attend the swearing in ceremony of ‘my friend of 35 years’ Imran Khan.
“Jo log meri ninda karte hain, woh lamba zindagi jiye. Jarurat nahi hae mein bhi aisa hi kucch bolun (Those who are attacking me, should live long. Its not that I should also react angrily),” Mr Sidhu told reporters.
He said he had responded to an “invitation” of friendship as he knew “Khan sahab for last 35 years”.
“We have interacted in the playground on daily basis….we have done commentary together,” he said.
“It was a call of friendship thus should not be seen with a narrow prism,” said Mr Sidhu, who has been with BJP and also a Lok Sabha MP for the saffron party.
Like the proverbial storm in a tea cup, Mr Sidhu on Saturday hugged Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at the oath-taking ceremony of Imran Khan in Islamabad provoking strong reactions from BJP back home.
BJP spokesman Sambit Patra, addressing a press conference here, also took exception to the fact that the Punjab Minister was made to sit next to President of “so called Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) Masood Khan” at the swearing-in ceremony in Aiwan-e-Sadr Hall of Pakistan President’s House.
“Yeh koi sadharan bat nahi hae (This was no ordinary thing)” as Mr Sidhu is a key political leader of Congress party and is also an incumbent Minister in the Punjab Government,” Mr Patra said.
The video and photograph of former Indian cricketer Sidhu hugging Pakistan’s Chief of Armed Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa also spread on the micro-blogging site. In Delhi, BJP leaders and others say the Pakistan Government should have arranged sitting arrangement for Mr Sidhu with other foreign dignitaries.
BJP spokesman Mr Patra said Mr Sidhu committed an ‘offence’ by hugging Pakistan Army Chief Gen Bajwa, a man ‘responsible’ for terrorism in India, ‘killing hundreds’ of innocent Indian civilians and Army men. (UNI)
NEW DELHI, Aug 19: