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Kartarpur event a showcase for Navjot Sidhu-Imran Khan bromance

Navjot Sidhu was at Imran Khan’s side along with Indian ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri, with Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa standing behind, as the premier inaugurated work on the corridor. Sidhu later sat beside Khan and foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at a public gathering, sharing smiles and pleasantries.

india Updated: Nov 28, 2018 22:41 IST
Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times
Navjot Sidhu,Qamar Javed Bajwa,Imran khan
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (C) and alongside Indian Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal (2R) and India's Punjab cabinet minister and former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu (3L), arrive to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the Kartarpur Corridor in Kartarpur on November 28, 2018. (AFP)

Punjab state minister Navjot Singh Sidhu was clearly the man of the match at the groundbreaking ceremony here for the Kartarpur corridor on Wednesday, with Prime Minister Imran Khan joking the former cricketer would easily win if he contested elections in Pakistan.

Sidhu was at Khan’s side along with Indian ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri, with Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa standing behind, as the premier inaugurated work on the corridor. Sidhu later sat beside Khan and foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at a public gathering, sharing smiles and pleasantries.

Several speakers referred to Sidhu and every mention drew loud cheers from the audience, which included a large number of Indian and Pakistani Sikhs.

Bajwa first spoke of Pakistan’s plans to open a corridor to Kartarpur Gurdwara when he met Sidhu at Khan’s swearing-in in August, but the former cricketer faced criticism on his return to India for having hugged the Pakistan Army chief.

Pakistan’s religious affairs minister Noor-ul-Haq Qadri referred to the “historic hug” in his speech and said: “If there were more such hugs, a lot of our problems would be solved.”

Sidhu, clad in a purple turban and matching kurta, was effusive in his praise of Khan in a speech peppered with several Punjabi couplets and passages from the Guru Granth Sahib. “When the history of the Kartarpur corridor is written, the name of Imran Khan will be written on the first page and in the first line.”

During his speech, Khan said he was inspired by the verses recited by Sidhu. “I was affected by what Sidhu said. I didn’t know he knows so much about Sufi poetry,” he said.

Khan also joked about Sidhu’s electoral prospects in the country. “What crime did Sidhu commit by coming here? And Sidhu, let me tell you one thing -- from what I’ve been seeing since yesterday, you can come and contest elections here in Pakistan and you will win, especially in Punjab,” he said.

Referring to the need for strong and determined leadership in India and Pakistan to resolve problems, Khan said there were two types of politicians -- those with big visions who take chances and those who are scared and worried about vote banks. “I hope that we will not have to wait till Sidhu becomes prime minister to have friendship between India and Pakistan,” he said to loud laughter.

First Published: Nov 28, 2018 22:40 IST