Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who courted controversy over embracing Pakistan army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa when he visited the country to attend its Prime Minister Imran Khan's swearing-in ceremony earlier this year, has taken a jibe at the centre, saying his hug turned out to be good for the people. He was referring to the central government's decision to develop the Kartapur Sahib corridor.
"My hug turned out good for 15-16 crores of people as the central government is now making move to develop the corridor from the International Border to Gurudwara Kartapur Sahib. At least this deal was not similar to Rafale deal," Mr Sidhu said.
Kartarpur Sahib, a Sikh place of worship where Guru Nanak is believed to have spent 18 years of his life, is situated in Narowal district of Pakistan's Punjab province. There have been demands to build a corridor linking it with Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district of Punjab.
The union cabinet on Thursday approved the development of the corridor from Dera Baba Nanak to the International Border. The Ministry of External Affairs also sent a communication to the Pakistan government, urging it to develop a corridor with suitable facilities in its territory from the International Border to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib.
The Pakistan government yesterday agreed to open the Kartarpur Corridor for Guru Nanak's 550th birth anniversary.
Mr Sidhu, who visited Pakistan in August this year, had come under attack from the BJP as well as members of his own party, the Congress, for hugging the Pakistan army chief.
"Somebody of that stature going (to Pakistan) and then there hugging the Chief of the Army- an Army about which in India we have very clear feelings-certainly has an impact on the soldiers, on all the people in the Ministry and the public," Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had also chided his cabinet colleague. "I think it was wrong for him (Sidhu) to have shown the affection he did for the Pakistan Army chief, I am not in its favour," he said.
On his return from Pakistan, Mr Sidhu had defended his action, asking what was he supposed to do when someone tells him that "we belong to the same culture" and talks of opening the route to the historic Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.
On Thursday, Mr Sidhu welcomed the decision of the government. "I welcome this auspicious step by the Union Cabinet, it will be a cup of joy for 12 crore 'Nanak Naam Laivas'. It will build bridges, burn animosity and will act like a soothing balm for two neighbouring countries," Mr Sidhu said in a tweet.
With inputs from agencies
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