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Congress leader Navjot Sidhu’s claims discredited by Pakistan

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Congress leader and a minister in Punjab government Navjot Singh Sidhu who had stirred up controversy from the moment he showed a keen interest in attending Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony in Pakistan is on the news yet again as Pakistan has contradicted his claims.

The leader claimed that the sacred Kartarpur corridor, a religious road to Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara would be opened by Pakistan, indicating that it shows Pakistan’s commitment towards honouring Sikh sentiments as many Indians seek to travel to Kartarpur Sahib on the occasion of Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary. Giving justification for the much ‘controversial hug’ he extended towards General Bajwa, which was highly criticised by many, the Congress leader said that he had asked General Bajwa to open the Kartarpur route, claiming that general Bajwa agreeing to it got him emotional and so he hugged him.

Now when Pakistan openly denies Sidhu’s claim, saying that there is a wide gulf between India and Pakistan that the authorities are trying to narrow down and the Kartarpur corridor issue cannot be considered in isolation, the Congress who had all this while defended Sidhu’s ‘controversial hug’ saying that it was done in ‘sportsman spirit’ and even had gone ahead to criticise PM Modi writing a congratulatory letter to Imran Khan, is yet to clarify on the issue. It is notable here that Punjab Congress Sunil Jakhar had asserted that as Sidhu has got General Bajwa’s remark on the issue, the ball is now in the court of the Indian ministry of external affairs to take the matter forward.

Akali Dal, who has long been at loggerheads with the Congress party in Punjab, lambasted at the Congress leader claiming that Sidhu to save himself from the embarrassment has given the entire episode a religious twist. After the Pakistan government, today denied claims made by Sidhu, Akali Dal alleged that Sidhu lied blatantly in order to save his skin.

Pakistan of today is at a very risky juncture. In the recently concluded elections, it saw terrorist organisations gaining political legitimacy. Hafiz Sayeed’s organisation contested elections, a terrorist group named Tehrik-e-Labbaik even managed to gather two million votes. The legitimisation of radicalised terror organisations who openly declare India as their enemy puts the already strained bilateral relationship at a much more delicate state. Sidhu can claim that he had the nation’s best interests at heart but any keen observer would refrain from taking issues with Pakistan lightly, especially the ones that have religious implications and can be used (or rather misused) by combative elements in a fragile nation like Pakistan to further complicate its ties with India.

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