Hated at home, loved across the border: Why Pakistan is all praise for Navjot Singh Sidhu

Hamza Ameer
Hamza AmeerAug 21, 2018 | 14:47

Hated at home, loved across the border: Why Pakistan is all praise for Navjot Singh Sidhu

Former Indian cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu visited Pakistan on the invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan to attend his oath-taking ceremony on August 18, 2018.

Sidhu, who is a close friend of Imran Khan, was all praise for the Pakistani premier since the time he received the invitation. Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan stayed in the spotlight as he, along with Vikram Singh Mehta, expressed great hope and called himself an “Ambassador of Peace”.


The uproar started in India after Sidhu was seen sitting with Masood Khan, President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), aka Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), which situation was then accompanied by a warm hug to the Pakistani Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who went to Sidhu during the oath-taking ceremony of PM Khan and Sidhu hugged him.

Jab they met: Navjot Singh Sidhu with Pakistani General Qamar Javed Bajwa. (Photo: ANI)

While there was uproar and anger in India over this, Pakistan, on the other hand, was all praise for the former Indian cricketer, with high appreciation for Sidhu’s nature and his positive media talks about betterment in India-Pakistan relations.

Sidhu expressed optimism that Imran Khan would steer his country out of crises and change its destiny. Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Sidhu said the invitation extended to him by Khan was a message of love, friendship and peace for his countrymen.

"There was a deep message in Imran Khan's statement of taking two steps forward in response to one by India," he said. Sidhu added that it was an obligation for him to take the message to the government across the border to resolve all the disputes with Pakistan through dialogue.


So many reasons why: Sidhu has had to justify his now-famous hug. (Photo: PTI)

Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan is being seen as a positive move and is hailed across all quarters. “If Sidhu can advocate the love and respect he got from Pakistan, in front of his government in India, it will be a major breakthrough in the strained ties between the two arch rivals India and Pakistan,” said Javed Siddique, a senior political analyst.

It was with respect to Sidhu’s visit that General Bajwa hinted towards opening the border at Kartarpura for Sikh pilgrims visiting Nankana Sahib to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak. "Opening of the Kartarpura passage is an earnest desire of the Sikh community," Sidhu maintained.

The warmth and regard that Sidhu received from Pakistan can be well established by his own statement. “I received lots of love and respect in Pakistan. I had also brought a message of love and friendship from India — but the people here reciprocated with compound interest,” he said.

Last updated: August 23, 2018 | 19:49
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