Nirmala Sitharaman says Navjot Singh Sidhu could have 'avoided' hugging Pakistan's Qamar Javed Bajwa
Cricketer-turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu had courted controversy by hugging Pakistan's Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa during his visit to the country for the swearing-in of Imran Khan as prime minister
New Delhi: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Tuesday that Navjot Singh Sidhu's gesture of hugging Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa impacted soldiers back home and asserted that the Punjab minister could have "avoided it".
Cricketer-turned politician Sidhu had courted controversy by hugging Pakistan's army chief during his visit to the country for the swearing-in of Imran Khan as prime minister.
He had claimed that he did so as Bajwa told him that the Pakistan government was working for opening of the Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims from Indian state of Punjab.
"Sidhu has a lot of admirers...somebody of that stature going there and then hugging the chief of Pakistan army, an army about which in India we have very clear feelings, it certainly has an impact on soldiers..., it demoralises the people. I wish Sidhu would have avoided it (hug)," she said during an interaction at the at the Indian Women's Press Corp (IWPC).
Pilgrimage to the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara was suspended in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Indian government reopened the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor from its side on Wednesday
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president announced that if the Punjab government does not take action, he would keep raising his voice
How much of a long rope the army leadership gives to the Imran Khan government may depend on a variety of complex factors over the next few months