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Will give a strong reply when needed, says Sidhu to criticism for hugging Pakistan Army chief

Navjot Singh Sidhu had defended his action of hugging the Pakistan Army chief saying what was he supposed to do when someone tells him that “we belong to the same culture” and talks of opening the route to the historic Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.

india Updated: Aug 20, 2018 19:49 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Navjot Singh Sidhu,Imran Khan,Imran Khan swearing in
Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu addresses the media on his arrival after attending the swearing-in ceremony of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, in Attari on August 19.(PTI Photo)

Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, who drew fierce criticism from Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh and the Opposition for hugging the Pakistan Army chief, on Monday said that he would give a strong reply to all when it was needed.

“Whenever the reply has to be given, I will give and I will give it to all... It will be a strong reply,” Sidhu, who evoked controversy for attending Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony as Pakistan’s prime minister, and there hugging army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and sitting next to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) President Masood Khan.

Sidhu, a Punjab minister, was responding to Amarinder Singh’s Sunday comment, saying it was wrong for him to have hugged Bajwa.

“I think it was wrong for him (Sidhu) to have shown the affection he did for the Pakistan Army chief, I am not in its favour... The fact is that the man (Sidhu) should understand that our soldiers are being killed everyday. My own regiment lost one major and two jawans a few months ago,” the chief minister had said.

Amarinder Singh had also said that Sidhu’s decision to attend the ceremony was made in his personal capacity and had nothing to do with his government.

On his return from Pakistan on Sunday, Sidhu had defended his action, asking what was he supposed to do when someone talks of opening the route to the historic Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.

“If someone (referring to Gen Bajwa) comes to me and says that we belong to the same culture and we will open Kartarpur border on Guru Nanak Dev’s 550th Prakash Parv (birth anniversary), what else I could do?” he said.

“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,” he added.

Sidhu found support from Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA and ousted Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira who said the minister had done nothing wrong.

In a tweet, Khaira, referring to the hug, said that this was the way Punjabis meet, and also demanded opening of a corridor to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib as well as the opening of India-Pakistan border so as to boost Punjab’s economy.

On the other hand, a lawyer in Bihar filed a sedition case against Sidhu for for insulting the Indian Army as well as families of Indian soldiers killed by Pakistan’s army and terrorists sponsored by the country.

Sudhir Kumar Ojha, known for indicting celebrities, alleged in his petition filed with Muzaffarpur’s chief judicial magistrate’s court that it was unbecoming of Sidhu to attend the celebrations in the neighbouring country at a time when the nation was mourning the death of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

First Published: Aug 20, 2018 18:07 IST