ISLAMABAD: Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu hugged Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Baweja and sat next to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) 'president' Masood Khan at the swearing-in of Imran Khan.
Wearing a blue suit and a pink turban, Sidhu was among the special guests present at Khan's oath taking ceremony at the Aiwan-e-Sadr (the President House) in Islamabad today.
Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa after arriving at the ceremony went to the front row of the guests where Sidhu was seated next to Masood Khan. Gen Bajwa hugged Sidhu and both chatted briefly. Warm smiles were exchanged. As the two chatted, they hugged once more.
Talking to the state-run PTV, Sidhu used his usual poetic expression to praise Khan and hoped that his accession to the prime minister's post will be good for Pakistan-India peace process..
"A new morning is here in Pakistan with a new government which can change the destiny of the country," said Sidhu, a minister in the Congress government in Punjab.
He hoped that Khan's victory will be good for the Pakistan-India peace process.
After drawing flak from Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and the Opposition for embracing the Pakistan Army chief, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu said Monday that he was prepared to give a strong reply to all when 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, the only Indian to attend Imran Khan's swearing-in ceremony as Pakistan's prime minister, said.
His comments come after Amarinder had Sunday ticked off his cabinet colleague for hugging Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed 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," Amarinder had said.
On his return from Pakistan Sunday, Sidhu had defended his action, asking 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.
Meanwhile, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA and ousted Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira Monday defended Sidhu, saying the minister had done nothing wrong. "sherryontopp has done nothing wrong by hugging Pak army chief, its d way Pbi's meet! I demand opening of corridor to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib. I also demand of opening of Indo-Pak border that'll immensely boost Pb's economy. There's no ill will between ppl its fight between govt's, (sic)" Khaira tweeted.
Sidhu was among the special guests present at the oath-taking ceremony at the Aiwan-e-Sadr (the President House) in Islamabad on the invitation of Imran.