New Delhi, Aug 21: Reacting to the criticism by the Narendra Modi ministers, Cricketer-turned-minister Navjot Singh Sidhu defended his visit to Pakistan and asked “Why no one is questioning PM Modi who hugged the then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
“I received invitation 10 times. Then I sought permission from Indian government, I didn’t get permission and was waiting. 2 days after Pakistan government gave visa, Sushma Swaraj Ji herself called me in the night & informed that I have been given permission,” Sidhu said
Clarifying on the controversies surrounding his hug with Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and sitting beside President of PoK Masood Khan, Navjot Singh Sidhu defended himself and said it was a gesture after Bajwa, who also belongs from the same culture, revealed that “Islamabad will open up Kartarpur border on Guru Nanak Dev’s 550th Prakash Parv.”
Sidhu pointed out that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had travelled on the bus to Lahore and Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an unscheduled trip to Lahore in 2015, on his way back from an official visit to Afghanistan and hugged then Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif but ” no one questioned “.
During that surprise stopover, he said, PM Modi had hugged then prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
“No one is questioning PM Modi,” he said.
“My seat was changed at the last minute. I was told just 5 minutes before ceremony that I was to be seated on front row. I sat wherever they made me sit,” Sidhu said.
The Punjab minister said his visit was “not about politics” but a warm invite from an old friend and foreign minister Sushma Swaraj had informed me that I have been given permission to attend Pakistan’s PM Iran Khan’s swearing- in ceremony.
Navjot Singh Sidhu, the Punjab minister who travelled to Pakistan to attend his ‘friend’ Imran Khan’s oath-taking ceremony as Pakistan Prime Minister
“If someone (Pakistan Army Chief General 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, what else I could do?, ” Navjot Singh Sidhu said on hugging Bajwa at Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s oath-taking ceremony in Islamabad.
Sidhu, however, said he hugged Qamar Javed Bajwa because he told him Pakistan may allow Sikh pilgrims direct access to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartapur next year.
Speaking about another controversy regarding sitting beside President of PoK Masood Khan, Navjot Singh Sidhu said, “If you’re 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.”
Navjot Singh Sidhu returned to India after attending the oath-taking ceremony of Imran Khan as Pakistan Prime Minister in Islamabad yesterday.