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Posted at: Aug 19, 2018, 4:52 PM; last updated: Aug 20, 2018, 12:52 PM (IST)

Amarinder calls his minister's embrace of Pak army chief ‘wrong’; Sidhu wonders why

Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, August 18

As rival attacks mount over his minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh finally broke his silence on Sunday.

Answering questions on the row sparked by Punjab Local Bodies, Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister Sidhu's presence at Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s swearing in, Singh said the cricketer-politician went in his “personal capacity”. 

“As far as attending the swearing-in ceremony is concerned, he went there in his personal capacity, so it has nothing to do with us. About him being seated next to the PoK President, maybe he (Sidhu) didn't know who he was,” Singh said on the sidelines of a photo exhibition here.

Singh however was quick to call Sidhu’s act of hugging Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa "avoidable".

“But as far as hugging the Pakistan Army Chief is concerned, I'm not in its favour. It was wrong of him to have shown  affection towards the Pakistan Army Chief.”

The Punjab chief minister’s statements comes at a time when rival parties such as the BJP have excoriated Sidhu’s conduct in Pakistan, calling it a “betrayal of India”.

Sidhu reacts

Sidhu defended his actions on Sunday saying he had little say in what passed at the ceremony.

Speaking to the press, Sidhu said he was asked to sit next President of Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir (PoK) Masood Khan.  

“If you're invited as a guest of honour somewhere, you sit wherever you are asked to. I was sitting somewhere else but they asked me to sit there,” Sidhu said.

Justifying the hug, he said: “If someone comes to me and says that we belong to the same culture and we'll open Kartarpur border on Guru Nanak Dev's 550th Prakash Parv, what else could I have done?”

Sidhu’s Pakistan visit to his cricketing contemporary Imran Khan’s swearing in ceremony kicked up a massive storm back home—first because he accepted the invitation, and then because he sat next to Masood Khan and hugged Bajwa. With agencies     

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