- My jhappi was no Rafale deal, Navjot Singh Sidhu
- Pak army chief has told me the Kartarpur corridor will be opened, he said
- Visuals of Mr Sidhu hugging the army chief have become controversial
Navjot Singh Sidhu, accused by the ruling BJP of "betraying" his country by hugging the Pakistan army chief during his visit to Islamabad for Imran Khan's oath, said today: "My jhappi was no Rafale deal". Speaking to NDTV, the Punjab minister also referred to the India-Pakistan cricket match while making his case.
"Today we are playing a match against Pakistan, right? Will the Indian players turn their backs to the Pakistani players and stand with their backs to them? Suppose Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan walks onto the field and says hello Virat, I want to hug you...will he stand with his back to him," Mr Sidhu questioned.
Embracing Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa was "a show of affection because he talked about Baba Nanak", said the minister.
Mr Sidhu has been in the middle of a massive political row after he attended Imran Khan's swearing in as Pakistan's prime minister in Islamabad on August 18.
Visuals of Mr Sidhu hugging the army chief and seated next to a leader from Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir became hugely controversial back home, with the ruling BJP launching a massive attack.
Mr Sidhu claims that he hugged the army chief when he said Pakistan was ready to open the corridor to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, a historic Sikh pilgrimage 120 km from Lahore, on the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. He says he met Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday to appeal to her to follow up on the plan.
"...I have gone on record saying that the Pakistan army chief has told me that the Kartarpur corridor will be opened this time as we want peace, right? Then Pakistan PM had a meeting with all the stake holders and said that we are ready to open the Kartarpur corridor. In a public interview, Fawad Chaudhary, the Information Minister of Pakistan says without visas we will allow the Sikh Sangat to travel to Pakistan on a small ticket, now that's in public domain, the Indian High Commissioner went there, then what's the big deal? I just said you write to them... just a formal request because the Gurudwara Darbar Sahib is in Pakistan. What's the glitch?"
He denied union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal's claim that he had been "reprimanded" by Sushma Swaraj, commenting, "Who is Harsimrat? Was she a peeping Tom?"
He went on to describe his meeting with the minister. "I sat with her for 15 minutes and said please you write a letter of formal request because we have to go there. If I have to go to Pakistan I have to go to the embassy and take a visa, and she says the draft is being prepared. Amicably she said the draft is being prepared and we will send the letter soon. There ends the matter."
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