Diplomacy

Imran Khan Defends Sidhu, Hails Him as an 'Ambassador of Peace'

Sidhu, a friend of Khan, had attended Khan's swearing-in ceremony in Islamabad on August 18 and was slammed by BJP and the Akali Dal for hugging Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at the event.

Islamabad: Hailing Navjot Singh Sidhu as an “ambassador of peace”, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan today lashed out at the critics of the Indian cricketer-turned-politician and said they are doing a “great disservice” to peace in the subcontinent.

Sidhu, a friend of Khan, had attended Khan’s swearing in ceremony in Islamabad on August 18. He was slammed by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and the Akali Dal, and criticised even by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, for hugging Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at the event.

“I want to thank Sidhu for coming to Pakistan for my oath taking. He was an ambassador of peace and was given amazing love and affection by people of Pakistan,” Khan tweeted soon after Sidhu held a press conference in Chandigarh where he clarified that he hugged Gen Bajwa out of “emotion” after latter told him about the possibility of Pakistan allowing Sikh pilgrims access to Kartarpur Sahib, the place where Guru Nanak Dev spent 18 years.

“Those in India who targeted him (Sidhu) are doing a great disservice to peace in the subcontinent – without peace our people cannot progress,” Khan tweeted both in English and Urdu.

To move forward, Khan said, Pakistan and India must engage in dialogue and resolve their conflicts, including the Kashmir issue.

“The best way to alleviate poverty and uplift the people of the subcontinent is to resolve our differences through dialogue and start trading,” he said.

During the press conference, Sidhu said his visit to Pakistan was not “political” but just on a “warm invitation from a friend”.

(PTI)