Sidhu sticks to his guns on Pak visit, talks of message from ‘friend’
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Sidhu sticks to his guns on Pak visit, talks of message from ‘friend’

Navjot Singh Sidhu said his belief that India-Pakistan ties were set to improve has strengthened after his return from Islamabad, as his “friend” Imran Khan has sent a message that he wants peace.

india Updated: Sep 03, 2018 11:25 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, Jaipur
Navjot Singh Sidhu,Imran Khan,Pakistan
Cricketer-turned-minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, attacked by critics for his visit to Pakistan for Imran Khan’s oath ceremony and a controversial hug shared with the Pakistani army chief.(PTI File Photo)

Cricketer-turned-minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, attacked by critics for his visit to Pakistan for Imran Khan’s oath ceremony and a controversial hug shared with the Pakistani army chief, said his belief that India-Pakistan ties were set to improve has strengthened after his return from Islamabad, as his “friend” Imran Khan has sent a message that he wants peace.

In an apparent rebuttal to his critics, the Congress leader said his trip to Pakistan resulted in a message of peace. “I will tell you why my hope about the improvement in relations of both the countries got strengthen,” Sidhu said at an event organised by Youth Congress in Ajmer city on Sunday.

“Kargil War happened after former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee returned from Pakistan. Pathankot attack happened after PM Narendra Modi returned from Pakistan, but when Sidhu returned from Pakistan and some ‘nok-jhonk’ (bickering) took place, the message from my friend came that ‘we want peace... You take one step and we will take two’,” Sidhu said, referring to Imran Khan.

Stressing that sportsmen and artists break barrier and bring people closer, Sidhu said: “Hope is the biggest top (cannon), which conquers the impossible. My hope has strengthened after my personal friend became the prime minister of Pakistan after a struggle of years... I can say with full confidence that relations between both the nations would be enhanced.”

Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s impromptu visit to Lahore in December 2015 to meet his then Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif, Sidhu said PM Modi visited there without any invitation, and that was because he understands “talks are the only way (forward)”.

“Nothing except negativity was gained by blood shedding. Thousands of people lost their lives. So I would say positive - anything is better than nothing. Sportsmen or cricketers be it Wasim Akram, Sachin Tendulkar or Virat Kohli or artists like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan... They associate with people and I too went to Pakistan with this hope only,” he said.

Navjot Singh Sidhu visited Pakistan to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Imran Khan, a cricketer turned politician, on August 18.

During the visit, Sidhu had hugged Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, triggering criticism from the BJP and also from within his party, the Congress. Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh had also criticised his deputy for the move.

First Published: Sep 03, 2018 11:06 IST