Navjot Singh Sidhu seated next to President of PoK Masood Khan
Navjot Singh Sidhu seated next to President of PoK Masood Khan

Pak deliberately made Sidhu sit with PoK chief?

ANI | Updated: Aug 19, 2018 16:54 IST

Islamabad [Pakistan], Aug 18 (ANI): Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu was deliberately made to sit next to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) president Masood Khan during the swearing-in ceremony of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday.
According to informed sources in Pakistan, Indian cricketer-turned politician Sidhu was initially sitting in one of the back rows, next to former Pakistani cricketer Wasim Akram and others. However, managers at the 'Aiwan-e-Sadr' reportedly changed the protocol and made him sit next to the PoK president Masood Khan in the front row.
Sidhu, sharing the space with the PoK chief, sparked a furore and evoked strong reactions back home in India. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) termed Sidhu's Pakistan visit as a crime.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said "Navjot Singh Sidhu is not just an individual but also a member of a political party and a cabinet minister in the Punjab government. The Congress needs to answer some serious questions in this regard. Navjot must have known that this man is the so-called President of PoK. He should have objected to sitting next to him."
The BJP also asked whether Congress party president Rahul Gandhi endorses Sidhu's visit to Islamabad.
Protests and agitations against Sidhu were also reported from various parts of India.
In Punjab's Ludhiana, protestors said, "How could he attend Imran Khan's oath-taking ceremony and hug Pakistan's Army Chief being Punjab's cabinet minister when India is mourning the death of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee."
New Delhi does not recognise the government in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and it regards the entire Jammu and Kashmir state as an integral part of India, a part of which is occupied by Pakistan.
It's not just the controversial sitting arrangement, which raised eyebrows. Sidhu also drew flak for hugging Pakistan's Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa prior to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's oath-taking ceremony.
However, undeterred by the opposition attack, Sidhu defended his visit and the hug to Pakistan Army Chief.
He said, "It is our duty that we go back and ask our government to take a step ahead and I hope if we take one step forward, people here will take two steps forward. General Bajwa Sahab hugged me and said, "We want peace". So, let's swim in a blue ocean and shun Red Ocean. It's my dream."(ANI)