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Sidhu under fire in India for hugging Pakistan’s army chief

It feeds on anti-Pakistan controversies. It is always on the lookout for opportunities to spark controversies and ignite tempers in a bid to disrupt any attempt of creating bonhomie between the two countries.

The latest example of this myopism was the visit of former Indian cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu to Pakistan, where he was invited at the inauguration of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

At the swearing-in ceremony, Sidhu was seated next to Azad Jammu and Kashmir President Masood Khan, while Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa also hugged him during a brief chit-chat.

Sidhu, who attended Imran’s swearing-in in his capacity as a friend of the cricketer-turned-prime minister, was visibly overjoyed by the love he received in Pakistan.

“Gen Bajwa sahab hugged me and said, ‘We want peace’. So, let’s swim in a blue ocean and shun red ocean. It’s my dream,” Sidhu said at a news conference after the swearing-in ceremony.

The Indian media, however, turned the event into a huge controversy, triggering protests against Sidhu in India where his effigies were burnt by irate Indians.

Indian television anchors provoked politicians to call for action to be taken by the Congress – the party to which he belongs. The Indian media claimed that Sidhu had been seated next to the AJK president on purpose.

The opposition in Indian Punjab’s state assembly also targeted Sidhu for attending the swearing-in of Prime Minister Imran Khan. “Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan is shameful,” said Punjab BJP chief Shwait Malik.

“On one side the Pakistan army is involved in attacking our soldiers at the border and on the other side Sidhu was hugging the army chief. Does it mean he was thanking him for killing our jawans,” Malik said.

He called Sidhu an ‘opportunist’ and asked him to tender an apology over his “unacceptable act”.

However, there were some sane voices too that appreciated the gesture and criticised the hullabaloo in the Indian media.

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