Soon after union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal tweeted Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan demanding action against his minister for his "googly remark", the man at the receiving end of criticism said his comment was "distorted" and "misrepresented".
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also clarified that the remark was "strictly with reference to bilateral interaction with the Indian government" in a tweet.
After the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan, which was attended by central ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri, Mr Qureshi had controversially said that "Imran (Khan) delivered a googly and India sent two ministers to Pakistan".
"The world watched, Pakistan watched, that PM Imran Khan bowled a googly at Kartarpur. As a result of the googly, India, that had refused to engage with Pakistan, had to send two ministers to Pakistan," he had bragged in a misplaced reference to Mr Khan's earlier career as a fast bowler in international cricket and cancelled talks between the two countries.
"Nothing can be more disgusting than this," Ms Badal snapped back today.
She accused the Pakistani minister of "hurting sentiments of Sikhs and peace efforts by equating attendance at function at Sri Kartarpur Sahib with trapping India by bowling a googly".
.@SMQureshiPTI As a devout Sikh I feel anyone having deep respect for Sikhism wud not politicise holy initiative of #KartarpurCorridor by calling it 'googly' or as a good 'chaal' as termed by u & ur prez. Sikhs are not pawns in chess. Pls, don't play with our faith.- Harsimrat Kaur Badal (@HarsimratBadal_) December 2, 2018
In his defence, Mr Qureshi tweeted:
Dragging my comment towards "Sikh sentiments" is a deliberate attempt to misrepresent & mislead. What I said was strictly with ref to bilat.interaction with the Indian Govt. We have deep respect for Sikh sentiments & no amount of distortions or controversies would change it. 1/2- Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) December 2, 2018
In deference to the long-standing desires of our Sikh brethren, we decided to open the Kartarpur Corridor. We have taken this historic initiative in good faith and will carry it forward in good faith. 2/2- Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) December 2, 2018
Mr Qureshi's remark had come after India refused to attend the next SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) meet in Pakistan, citing cross-border terrorism. "Unless Pakistan stops terrorist activities in India, there will be no dialogue and we will not participate in SAARC," Ms Swaraj had said.
She had also stressed that bilateral talks and Kartarpur corridor are "two different things". "The moment Pakistan stops terrorist activities in India, the dialogue can start. But the dialogue is not only connected with Kartarpur corridor," Ms Swaraj said.
In September, India had agreed to a meeting between Sushma Swaraj and Mr Qureshi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. But following the killings of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani terrorists, and the release of postage stamps "glorifying" terrorist Burhan Wani by the Pakistan government, India cancelled the talks.
During the religious ceremony on Wednesday, Imran Khan had said his government and army both want a "civilised relationship" with India. The cricketer-turned-politician added if India will take one step forward, then Pakistan will take two.