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‘Tackling Indian media’: Sidhu defends hug to Pakistan army chief

NEW DELHI: Ex-Indian cricketer and politician, Navjot Singh Sidhu, stirred up hornets’ nest in his country after he embraced Pakistan’s army chief during the oath-taking ceremony of Imran Khan in Islamabad, but the politician didn’t budge from his move when Indian journalists threw a volley of critical questions at him back home.

Sidhu, on return to India, justified the hug very calmly. “All the three chiefs of Pakistan defence forces came to meet people sitting in front row. Mr. Bajwa walked up to me and said he is a general who wanted to be a cricketer. He was very warm and said he wanted peace,” explained Sidhu after crossing the border.

“I pray for the people who criticized me, but I felt too much of love and affection from Pakistan side,” said Sidhu, who faced a group of protesters with black flags near border.

He added that Bajwa told him the Pakistan government would open the Dera Baba Nanak (Kartarpur) corridor on Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary. “When someone takes names of Baba Nanak, then he has offered you everything,” he said.

Pakistan loves Sidhu’s ‘Jaadu Ki Jhappi’ to army chief

India’s Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh also took exception to Sidhu’s gesture of mingling with Pakistan dignitaries especially those from the military and said it was “completely avoidable”.

It was wrong of the Punjab minister to have shown affection towards the top military official(s), Amarinder said.

Amarinder, however, dismissed the demand for Sidhu’s resignation as “not important,” adding that he had gone for Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony in his personal capacity.

BJP MLA Som Parkash said his party would raise the issue of Sidhu’s Pakistan visit during the legislative assembly session next week.

Praising Imran, Sidhu said he will not make compromises, “the collapse of a man’s character stems from compromises. He (Imran) has clarity of thought, he listens to everyone but will do what he thinks is in the right perspective and we should give him some time to make and implement policies”.

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