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A hug that could ……………………..

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on August 23, 2018 with No Comments

Navjot Singh Sidhu hugging General Qamar Javed Bajwa of Pakistan and sitting next to the ‘President’ of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir during Imran Khan’s oath-taking ceremony as prime minister of Pakistan has given an opportunity to oversensitive and hyper actives in India to indulge in “nationalist versus traitor” debate.  Till few years, back in diplomatic enclave the handshake was the most accepted norm and a hug was a big “No-No” as many cultures don’t approve of the same. However, with the entry of Prime Minister of India a new term “huglomachy” had to be coined due to his uncanny eagerness to hug each and every world leader that he meets.  Navjot Singh Sidhu is not new to the International Turf having played international cricket for good sixteen years, has been a commentator for good number of years. His political acumen can’t be underestimated too. Having made his political debut in 2004 and is now holding two important ministries in Punjab.  However, the Prime Time slots in India were looking for something that could bring back the ratings back to the channels.  The kind of debates that took place specially with the inputs from the ruling party’s spokesperson Sampit Patra clearly showed that the intellectual bankruptcy has taken the front seat. The deliberations exposed India as a nation of paranoid, ignorant and one with the best repertoire for creating a mountain out of a mole hill. Navjot Singh Sidhu being a visiting dignitary did not have any role in picking up his seat. It all happens as per a protocol  of the host nation and  a decorum demands that when you are acknowledged with warmth you respond with the same. The hug from the Army Chief called for the same especially when the chief  had  himself offered something that any Sikh would desire.  The gesture was the proposal to provide free access to Sikh devotees to a historic gurdwara just three kilometres inside Pakistan. The gurdwara called Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib near Gurdaspur, is one of the holiest of holy shrines for the Sikhs as Guru Nanak Dev, their first guru, had spent his last days in that particular Gurdwara. His 550th birth anniversary falls next year and Sikhs have been demanding a free corridor to enable them to pay obeisance. Moreover, Sikhs in their daily “Ardas” do ask the almighty that they may be granted the right to service and free access to the various Sikh Shrines that they have left in Pakistan.  The Corridor to the Kartarpur Gurudwara Sahib remains an emotional issue for Sikhs. The Radcliffe line that led to formation of Pakistan out of India was one of the most eccentric decision by the British and the Gurudwara in the question is an example of the same. Situated barely four kilometers from the international border in Gurdaspur district of Punjab, Kartarpur Sahib is in Naorwal district of Pakistan where the founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak Dev spent the last 17 years of his life. The Gurudwara could have been in India but for the Radcliffe line. A gurdwara was constructed in his memory where Sikhs from across the world aspire to pay obeisance. Indian Sikhs have been demanding that they be allowed to visit Kartarpur Sahib without passport and visa formalities.

Of all the non-controversies to have provided enough fodder for  prime-time warriors.  A politician, at a former cricket mate’s swearing-in in a neighbouring country, need not bother about the protocol of who sits next to him. To stretch the argument—given that it’s so absurd anyway — since we consider PoK to be a part of India, we should also treat its so-called ‘President’ as our fellow citizen in Pakistani captivity! Leaders from BJP and Shrimoni Akali Dal( SAD) have described the visit and gestures as “anti-national” and some even sought an action against him; to an extent that a case of sedition has been filled against Sidhu. He is also facing the wrath for having hugged a General who is responsible for the killings of over 100 hundred of Indian soldiers on the Line of Control. The critics concern for the soldiers appear to be genuine. However, if you really want to end the killings on the Line of Control then peace has to be given a chance and that is what Sidhu has been campaigning for. Hence his critics have scored a self goal, and they have suffered another setback with the news of Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi having written a letter to Imran Khan gaining grounds.

His critics have forgotten that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee during his visit to Pakistan had hugged his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif. Prime minister Narendra Modi had also hugged Nawaz Sharif during his unannounced visit to Pakistan for Nawaz Sharif’s grand daughter’s wedding in 2015, it was hailed as a ‘bold’ move behoving that of a ‘statesman’. But since Navjot Sidhu is no longer with the BJP and  is a minister in the Congress government in Punjab, he has to be taken to the task. A casual hug that could have opened doors for talks is being politicized by the loyalist to the BJP for petty gains those may not even materialize.

 

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