Sidhu defends it, but his hug to Pak army chief earns him Punjab CM's rebuke

PTI
Sunday, 19 August 2018

"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," said Amarinder Singh.

CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today ticked off his Cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu for hugging Pakistan army chief, even as the cricketer-turned-politician defended his action.

Himself a former officer of the Indian Army's Sikh Regiment, Amarinder Singh disapproved of Sidhu's act at Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's swearing-in ceremony, terming it as "wrong" and saying "he should understand" that Indian soldiers regularly fall prey to the Pak army's aggression.

"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," said Amarinder Singh.

The Punjab chief minister made the remarks in reply to reporters seeking his views on his Cabinet colleague hugging the Pak army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa at Khan's swearing-in ceremony at Islamabad yesterday.

Sidhu, who returned from Pakistan today, was the only Indian, who attended Khan's swearing-in ceremony on an invitation from him.

On his return, Sidhu defended his action of hugging Bajwa, retorting what was he supposed to do when someone tells him "we belong to the same cultuire" and talks of opening the route to the historic Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.

On Sidhu's hug to Bajwa, Amarinder Singh, while talking to the media persons on the sidelines of a photo exhibition here, further said, he should have avoided indulging in such a gesture when Indian soldiers were getting killed every day on the borders.

"After all, it is the Army chief who gives the orders to kill, with the soldiers merely following the same," said the chief minister.

The Pakistan army chief is responsible for the deaths of our soldiers and Sidhu should not have shown such niceties to him, said Amarinder Singh.

Besides hugging Pakistan army chief, Sidhu was also seen sitting next to the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) President Masood Khan, at the event.

On Sidhu being seated next to the PoK chief, Amarinder Singh, however, gave him the benefit of doubt, saying he might not have known who he was.

"In any case, the sitting arrangement was not in his (Sidhu's) hands," he said.

To another question, Amarinder said Sidhu had gone to Pakistan in his personal capacity due to his close relations with the former Pakistan cricketer since their cricketing days.

"Going there (to Pakistan) was his personal affair, it has nothing to do with us," he said.

Sidhu was among the special guests present at the oath-taking ceremony at the Aiwan-e-Sadr (the President House) in Islamabad yesterday on the invitation of Imran Khan.

The chief minister, however, dismissed the Opposition's demand for Sidhu's resignation, saying it was "not important."

Khan, who famously captained his national cricket team to the World Cup glory in 1992, had invited some of his former teammates and friends to witness his formal accession to the top job in Pakistan.

The BJP and the Akali Dal have also hit out at Sidhu for "ignoring the sentiments" of the people of his country, mourning the demise of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. 

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