Sidhu returns from Pakistan, says it was not his decision to sit beside PoK President

Vikas

Chandigarh, Aug 19: Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who had drawn flak for attending Imran Khan's swearing-in as Pakistan's Prime Minister in Islamabad, returned to India on Sunday.

The BJP had lashed out at Sidhu earlier for having accepted Khan's invitation for the oath-taking function, with Subramanian Swamy even saying that the cricketer-turned-politician would be branded as a 'traitor' is he goes to Pakistan.

Eyebrows were also raised over Sidhu's seating position at the Khan's swearing-in function. The Congress leader and Punjab minister was seated right next to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) "president" Masood Khan at Imran Khan's swearing-in on Saturday.

Also Read | Sidhu under Opposition fire for Pak visit, BJP calls it 'shameful'

The Indian government doesn't recognise Masood and holds that no elected Indian representative should share a platform with him.

"If you are invited as a guest of honour somewhere, you sit wherever you are asked to. I was sitting somewhere else but they asked me to sit there," Sidhu told reporters today (August 19) after returning to India via Attari-Wagah border.

Also Read | Here is what Sidhu discussed with the Pakistan army chief

When asked about hugging Pakistan Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa, Sidhu said, "If someone (Pakistan Army Chief General Bajwa) comes to me and says that we belong to the same culture and we will open Kartarpur border on Guru Nanak Dev's 550th Prakash Parv, what else I could do?"

The opposition in Punjab on Saturday targeted Navjot Singh Sidhu for attending the swearing in ceremony of Imran Khan, with the BJP describing his visit to Islamabad as "shameful".

Sidhu's hug with Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the ceremony also came under fire with the opposition parties asking him whether he remembered the sacrifices made by the Indian soldiers at the border at that time.

Also Read | Sidhu sits next to President of PoK at Imran Khan's oath taking ceremony

The SAD had also targeted the ruling Congress, saying the party which had been criticising the Centre over the deaths of jawans at the border should now explain to the "controversial visit" of its own leader.

Sidhu is a Cabinet minister in the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in Punjab. The main opposition party, the Aam Aadmi Party, also condemned Sidhu for hugging Pakistan Army chief.

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