Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu. Photograph:( ANI )
Cricketer-turned-politician, Navjot Singh Sidhu defended after facing criticism for hugging Pakistan army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa and sitting beside Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir President, Masood Khan during swearing ceremony of prime minister Imran Khan.
After coming back from his Pakistan's visit, Sidhu said, "If one is invited as a guest of honour somewhere, then they have to sit wherever they are asked to. I was sitting somewhere else but they asked me to sit there," news agency ANI quoted him saying.
Further giving clarification on his hug with the Pakistan Army Chief, the Congress leader said, "If someone (Pakistan Army Chief General Bajwa) comes 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?"
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan on Saturday took oath as the 22nd prime minister of Pakistan, a day after he defeated Shahbaz Sharif in a one-sided contest in the National Assembly.
Sidhu after being invited to the event reached Lahore via the Wagah border on Friday. From there he then travelled to Islamabad for the event.
As Sidhu arrived at the Resident House for the swearing ceremony, he was welcomed by Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa on Saturday where both hugged each other during the welcoming.
Sidhu then sat next to Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) president Masood Khan.
Following the event, he became a subject of backlash by the opposition as they condemned his visit.
BJP termed his visit a "crime". BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said, "Navjot Singh Sidhu is not just an individual but also a member of a political party and a cabinet minister in the Punjab government. The
Congress needs to answer some serious questions in this regard. Navjot must have known that this man is the so-called President of PoK. He should have objected to sitting next to him."
Opposition in Punjab also questioned Sidhu on the importance of the visit when the country is mourning for the demise of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.