Former Indian cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu, who recently visited Pakistan to attend Prime Minister Imran Khan’s oath-taking ceremony, received immense backlash for exchanging pleasantries and hugging Pakistan’s Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the event.
Indian Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh was among those who disapproved of Sidhu’s gesture and said it was “not a nice gesture” and was “completely avoidable”.
Speaking on the sidelines of a photography exhibition in Chandigarh, Singh said, “Sidhu should have avoided indulging in such a gesture when Indian soldiers are getting killed every day on the border.”
Sindhu while in Pakistan did not comment on the criticism he received back home. However, upon his return, he addressed the matter and said, “He came up to me. First thing, he is a Jat like the Cheemas, Sandhus, and Sidhus. All three chiefs of Pakistan defence forces came to meet people in the first row. General Bajwa walked up to me and said that though he is a General, he wanted to be a cricketer. He was very warm and said he wanted peace.”
He added that General Bajwa told him the Pakistan government will open the Dera Baba Nanak (Kartarpur) corridor on the occasion of Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary.
“When someone takes names of Baba Nanak, then he has offered you everything,” the former Indian cricketer said, adding that he received “much love and affection from Pakistan.”
Sidhu, during his visit, had also, rebuffed Indian hardliners’ criticism over his tour by commenting on how much love and respect he received from Pakistanis.
“Pakistanis have given me infinite respect,” Sidhu said on Saturday night while addressing media here in the city. “The kind of love and affection that I have got from here, it’s… it’s unbelievable!”