Thursday, 18 August, 2022
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Row over Sidhu in Pakistan exposes us as a nation of paranoid, ignorant, immature idiots

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By hugging Pak army chief, Navjot Sidhu didn’t betray India; he promoted the national interest, Punjabi style.

Navjot Singh Sidhu hugging General Qamar Javed Bajwa and sitting next to the ‘President’ of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir during Imran Khan’s oath-taking ceremony as prime minister of Pakistan Saturday morning has given rise to a hyper-nationalist outrage, reminiscent of the furore faced by prominent Hindi editor Ved Pratap Vaidik when he met Hafiz Saeed.

Except, the commotion now seems stronger. Sidhu, after all, is a star, and a recent defector from the BJP to Congress.

Neither of them was betraying his nation’s cause. Each, in fact, was furthering it by performing their own roles correctly: one as a public figure, and the other as an influential foreign affairs columnist.

Also Read: Pak army chief offers Guru Nanak peace corridor to Sidhu, BJP up in arms

Politicians, prominent figures from sports, cinema and popular culture meet diverse people all through their lives. The expectation that they must judge each individual before hugging, shaking hands or conversing with him/her is nonsense. It is regrettable that this has lately been legitimised by our commando-comic TV channels and some other electronic warriors on social media.

It makes me wonder what would happen to a journalist today if he met Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale a dozen-and-a-half times, Laldenga, Thuingaleng Muivah, Gulbadin Hekmatyar, Qazi Hussain Ahmad and/or General Mirza Aslam Beg (then Pakistan’s Jamaat-e-Islami emir and serving army chief, respectively). And, while we are at it, let me say that I have also ridden a truck at the head of a procession with Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri (now famous for laying siege on Islamabad) while a bunch of men waved their Kalashnikovs around us in non-threatening joy; met Velupillai Prabhakaran; and conversed with two serving ISI chiefs.

Once, my reporter’s luck even found me in a lift in a Geneva hotel with a distinguished gentleman with taut, aquiline features, in a finely cut suit with fauji written all over him and Pataudi on his nose. He was Major General Asfandyar Pataudi, our own Tiger’s first cousin, Saif Ali Khan’s uncle, and then number two in the ISI.

Given how “patriotic” the discourse is these days, how would I have explained all these misdemeanours? And my “cowardice” in not making enough of the “opportunity”. What would I be expected to do now? Grab the AK from one of Bhindranwale’s hitmen and either shoot him or put him under citizen’s arrest?

Knowing the nonchalant Navjot Sidhu, he is most likely delighted by his sudden fame. But in the process, intellectual bankruptcy has taken hold of our collective judgement and exposed us as a nation of paranoid, unthinking, illiberal, ignorant, immature idiots. It also tells you how widespread under-employment is in our country.

Also Read: 30 years after road-rage incident, Sidhu let off with a Rs 1,000 fine

Of all the non-controversies to have provided combustible gas for our prime-time warriors, this is the silliest one of all. 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!

A journalist (Vaidik) meeting a terrorist had shocked us four years ago. What did he discuss with Saeed? Could he have compromised India’s interests? Did he come back and brief the authorities? Did he freeze Muridke’s GPS coordinates on his smartphone? Did he offer Kashmir to Saeed?

All I would say is, if he did, I hope Saeed gratefully accepted his offer, and got off our throats. In these hyper-patriotic times, when the Indian sense of humour is circumscribed by Kapil Sharma’s Comedy Nights, it is best to idiot-proof everything. So let me add that I’m not saying this seriously. I don’t want Kashmir going anywhere, nor does Sidhu. Although, in the bilaterally angry week following 26/11 when a Pakistani TV anchor taunted me in a phone interview by asking that since Arundhati Roy had “said” Kashmir “should be given” to Pakistan, what did I have to say, I escaped by saying, with dead seriousness, “If so, please do take it from her”.

A public figure is fully within his rights to meet with anybody, whosoever. Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi were only furthering the national interest by embracing Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif. Former R&AW chief A.S. Dulat didn’t undermine India’s cause, but furthered it by writing a book jointly with his ISI counterpart.

This deterioration of the discourse in India has been in the making for at least two decades, probably since Kargil. This echoed in the jingoistic attacks on editors (including this one) who “gratefully” ate Pervez Musharraf’s breakfast at Agra in 2001 as he attacked India’s position on Kashmir. In 2013, in what can be called his first election speech, Narendra Modi, at a rally in Delhi (29 September), attacked Indian journalists for again enjoying their meal without protest in New York when Nawaz Sharif allegedly described Manmohan Singh as “an old woman”.

Also Read: David Headley’s Pakistani half-brother Danyal Gilani came to Delhi for Vajpayee funeral

For Modi it was campaign rhetoric. But it endures. It is just that the target now is a cricketer-politician, celebrating the rise to the top of his cricketer-politician buddy, albeit a Pakistani. And our politics is a non-stop war.

Still, Sidhu can safely laugh this away for several good reasons. The first, that he is Sidhu and nonsense never bothers him, even when he speaks it on TV. Second, he knows this is a 48-hour madness and soon it will be replaced by something else. The third, and most important, is that in Punjab, where his politics lies, nobody, repeat nobody, would bother. If anything, his fellow Punjabis are laughing at the outrages.

Punjabis, more than any other community in India, are most at peace with Pakistanis. If a fight begins, they are in the forefront, always India’s sword arm. But not for them any of this prime-time paranoia. An NDTV attitudes poll had once shown that the largest percentage of respondents wanting better ties with Pakistan are in Punjab. The lowest, by the way, was in Gujarat.

Parkash Singh Badal, who had accompanied Vajpayee to Lahore in 1999, sometimes proudly displays to his guests back at his native farm house, the “dumbas” (fat-tailed sheep) presented to him by his counterpart in Pakistani Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif. The Punjab-Punjab games, with sportspeople from both sides, took place in 2004, and in the same year, former Pakistan cricket captain Intikhab Alam (he was coach when Pakistan won the 1992 World Cup) was appointed coach of the Punjab Ranji Trophy team. He served till 2007.

Why did nobody complain? Because the Punjabis are more than happy and secure in their skin. They elected, with the highest ever majority, Congress’s Amarinder Singh as their chief minister last year, never mind that his closest personal friend is prominent Pakistani journalist Aroosa Alam.

No Opposition leader made their friendship an issue during the elections. Nobody complained when she sat in the front row at his swearing-in. They won’t bother one bit over who sat next to Sidhu or who he hugged.

The “khatre mein hai desh” commandos have got their politics and sociology both wrong.

Also Read: Lollywood wants some good entertainment in Imran’s ‘Naya Pakistan’


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  1. Amarinder Singh is jealous and a hate monger because he was not invited. He can walk around with a Pakistani mistress and possibly passing Indian secrets to Pakistan thru her. He is not a Sikh☹️. He did this same idiotic thing with Canadian guests and riled everyone. And Indian media just blindly follows what he says.

  2. It is with important reasoning that Punjabis are the highest supporters of peace with Pakistan. For it is Punjab that is at the border and faces the biggest threat from Pakistan out all Indian states in the event of war. Even today, while Gujratis may be against negotiations with Pakistan, Punjabis want peace because they are Punjabi sardars that are dying on the frontlines. The rest of India has no right be against peace with Pakistan when they have nothing at stake, as compared to the Punjabis.

  3. Meeting any Pakistani citizens ,govt officials, or politicians by any Indians citizens become IDIOTS–?,
    My long stay in United Arab Emirates,, I met dozen,s of p akistani Engineers, many times we exchange views, projects
    Discussion, even in U.A.E. Army forces the Pakistani officers,like captain,,major, let Col .whenever I visit their office they always
    Extend freindly Hospitaleties, Beside this I happen to meet ex president parvez Musharraf .who came to offer his condolences To H.E. Shk Nahyan, passing away his father H.E. Shk Mubarak ex interior minister of U.A.E,
    I re call While shaking his hands of. Former Pakistani president He offer me good health, and he said Aape KE Urdu Saap hai
    Mubarak ho. The crickter Navjot. Sidhu. Has done good thing, accepting investigation and Wishing the prime minister Imran khan in Person,, why some one should use Un healthy language

  4. “Ignorant immature, idiots” this is no way to describe all 130crores of us just because few have chosen to criticise this man. He had the freedom to do what he has done.Pl give same freedom to others to criticise him.

  5. If the enmity between tamils and sinhalis can not be the base for India’s policy or national interest towards Sri Lanka, then the wishy-washiness of Punjabiyat can’t color our nation interest towards Pakistan.

  6. At the time when nation was mourning for late shri atal bihari vajpayeeji. He was the one who was shying away from showing his regards to the legendary leader. Instead he went elsewhere(in this scenario to pakistan). The timing of his visit to pakistan was utterly wrong and his PDA towards their army generals, bureaucrats & top leaders, his shameful laugh made everyone uncomfortable. It was salt & pepper rubbed on wound (due to atal bihari vajpayreji demise).
    Might be the writer of this article thinks he is much more intellectual and a star writer. Whereas he must understand in this country each and every vote is equal. At least quarter of million votes will be lost by congress just due to this gesture of former cricket player.
    I am not against any political party or common pakistani people who earn their bread and butter through hard work as it’s the same with common indian who work hard to meet their needs.

  7. Too harsh an accusation…..if I don’t agree to what Sidhu did, I’m paranoid. ignorant, immature idiot. I harbour no ill feelings against Sidhu. Had he hugged Imran, I would have been only too happy. On the other hand the new President didn’t even have the courtesy of shaking hands with Sidhu after he honoured him with a Pashmina shawl. I think hugging Pakistan General was uncalled for. Call me paranoid, immature idiot or even send me to a mental asylum (for my paranoia) but I’d still say what Sidhu did was patently wrong.

  8. I don’t understand the views of those people who favour talks with pakistan. Forget about Modi regim, from 1947 govts guided by you so called liberals and doves had been talking with pakistan but have u solved any bilateral problem with pakistan? Both the countries have single point conflict Kashmir which nobody wants to dilute their stand a bit for peace. U start a talk with pakistan, they blast a bomb or start war on u ,then what the hell u get from ur stupid talks. U keep mum for some months after the blast or war then again start talk. At least here is a leader called MODI who gave a chance to pakistan on his swearing but as pakistan failed to respond sincerely, he has a consistent approach that no talks till terrorrism is supported by pakistan. He has not hovered between talks and no talks. Pakistan is a country which has inherent hatred toward Hindustan and Hindus. Their hatred is not political but religious and u fools r wasting the resources of india in unfruitful talks. Rather we should be so strong militarily as well as economically, that pakistan can not venture to do any misadventures.

  9. This article depicts the emotions of most indians and Pakistani mortals.We used to be one country, yet we have been consistently fighting verbal wars on social media or whatever the platform is.
    Being a patriotic Pakistani I never see indians as my enemies, rather worthy neighbours.We share many things in common, be it a language, living style social values and so many other things. Sidhu did a great service to help better relations and courageously stepped up to attend the swearing-in of beloved, great PM Imran Khan. I understand the rage he has evoked in certain Indians as same thing happens when any prominent Pakistani does something like this. Remember Shahid Afridi’s infamous “India se bht pyar milta ha” comment provoked similar outrage in Pakistan too.
    Not all Indians and Pakistani come up with cririszm rather some sections. But what Sidhu did And Great Khan said in statement—If india takes one step, we will take two towards it—may help promote peace between the two neighbours.

  10. Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist,Barnala (Punjab)

    Mr Navjot Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan and his occasional hugging Pak army chief Mr.Bajwa episodes have been blown out of proportions
    witout any rhyme or reason !

    Reactions for and against the move change their contours in light of TERA or MERA factors ! Had Sidhu done all this as a BJP activist
    it might have been deemed very laudable ! Since he is suuporting now TERA tag of Congress that is why heavens have fallen because of his hugging Bajwa !

    Why this unruly mob of troller- reactors kept mum when NaMo paid an unscheduled visit to Lahore to attend function in then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif”s family ? Amazingly, yardsticks vary every now and then !

    I am indeed surprised to find Captain Amarinder Singh Punjab Chief Minister too reacting awkwardly to this development ! Just imagine, had Captain been in Sidhu’s place would he have repulsed Bajwa’s offer of hug publically ?

    Those reacting over this issue , running short of ideas have been resorting to follies in futility !

    Mr.Sidhu’s visit should be taken as a gesture and endeavour to break the deadlock for some meaningful dialogue between two neighbouring nations to live in harmony !

    There is no harm in making endeavours whosoever gets an opportunity to break the ice and bell the cat !

    Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist
    Pom Anm Nest,Barnala (Punjab)

  11. Media in India is playing a very negative role. Only hate is being spread. No humanitarian and positive approach.
    In Kargil war also hundreds of Indian fauji jawans became martyrs due to conspiracy of Pakistani General Musharaff . But the same General was called and welcomed in India in the hope that we may solve our problems. The Pakistani misadventures had never stopped. Even then Modi ji called the same Nawaj Shrif in India in his oath taking ceremony who had earlier done breach of trust with Vajpayee ji. Then Modi ji himself went to Pakistan we all know for what.

    I highly appreciate such brave acts of our leadership for the sake of attaining peace , good will and development in this sub continent. More such steps needed to be taken . Hopes should never be allowed to die. The relations of nations are as complex as human relations. We all should continue to try to nurture it with the water of hope and love with the expectation that some day it may flower and fructify.

  12. how can you call anyone as Idiots..?..Sidhu is an entertainer upto his old foolish is a waste of time discussing these things..

  13. Use of such strong vocabulary against a large number of readers is avoidable Shekhar. Public Opinion is bigger than even the most respected journalists such as you. You are entitled to your views but same is the case with those who may have an opposing view.

  14. Hats off to you. Unlike Gavaskar and Kapil, Sidhu has shown the courage to accept and attend Imran’s swearing in ceremony. The problem with BJP they believe that only Modi and leaders from their have the right to hug in India and abroad. You are right we have many idiots who knows only to abuse

  15. Jab ham karen to theek, jab tum karo to galat attitude is what has been killing us . Too much false ego. Have nothing worthwhile to comment and just chriticise everything. Some people have become famous with this habit- — i know many of them.

  16. If the names of the commentator’s are genuin, Shekars point gets vindicated automatically… Sad that magnanimity seems to have eroded most in thr South West of Vindhayas;upto some extant east of Aravalies too!! Hungama hai kyun barpa…Jhappi Jo PA li hai…listen to Ghulam Ali, Mehndi Hasan Sahab..still someone want to stick to pseudo bharityata listen to ustad Fareed Ayaz a pakistani qawal singing Mira’s bhajan. Bhagwan sabko sabuddhi de.

  17. I realli dun even feel like reading the article after reading the headline… all I know is even the head of my Nation has taken a stand that until terrorism stops.. no bilateral talks.. we as representatives of our country should respect that.. shame on sidhu n Nothing against The print.. they r being well paid to write against BJP.. n for few.. money is above the Nation.. n I guess The Print is bunch of such few

  18. You are really a congress loyalist. Even his own chief minister has strongly disapproved his conduct of hugging Pakistan army chief who is responsible for killing of Indian soldiers. Your journalism is dead when you fail to condemn such irresponsible and insensitive act of sidhu and trying to mislead the public on other perfunctory issues. Indian journalists have lost credibility. Amarinder Singh deserves credit for his bold stand. Sidhu should in fact resign after getting censure from his chief minister

  19. Shekhar Gupta, you are one courageous and gutsy journalist to dare write something like this. May Allah protect you from the very hate mongers you just challenged. I really wonder how could anyone from India as well as Pakistan in the right or normal frame of mind can even think about a war between the two countries armed with nuclear weapons. Do they have the slightest idea about the catastrophic consequences of such a conflict? It seems hate has completely blinded them exactly as it always does. Nobody needs peace in the world today more than India and Pakistan. Any other option is nothing but mutual destruction. Let’s hope and pray that the better sense prevails on both sides of the border. I once again congratulate and commend you for your courage and honesty.

  20. It was Punjab that was partitioned, not India… We Punjabis don’t think Pakistan as enemy but just as brother who got separated from us in 1947

  21. Only a fool who doesn’t understand geopolitics of subcontinent and terror modules sponsored by Pakistan will agree with this article. At the end of the day Siddu is no statesman he is only an cheap entertainer.

  22. As long as there r souls like SG and NSS on both sides of the boundary we can hope for peace and prosperity in the region. We must discourage extremists and peace- enemies. As human beings we are all equals and creatures of ONE GREAT CREATOR. This is such a great relation that makes us above all other relations including caste and creed and religion.

  23. Leaving politics aside, leaving politicians aside, leaving religion aside …let’s learn to live and find solutions peacefully first as an human being …it is the sportspersons, musicians, actors …new generation ..who is going to find ways and solutions to bridge the gap created in 1947.

    Punjabis unlike Gujaratis ..have suffered the most during petition time …they have felt the pain of leaving their loved ones, assets …they understand & value the love & affection beyond politics …beyond arms …beyond Kashmir and someone has to take lead / initiative to end the nonsense of spending so much on arms / security when both sides people are starving / struggling ….Atal ji showed the way to come closer with our Neighbours …with Atal ji going and Imran coming at stage can’t be just a coincidence means something. Let’s grow up …we are talking up going to Mars ..finding life in other planets …let’s first learn to live together on earth …

  24. Does the writer have any idea the terrorist bombing that pakistan has done in india….he conveniently forgot all of the pakistans wrong doing .
    Morons like this guy is the curse of our nation.
    Immature idots…who????? . so its very much alright when pakistan is a terrorist organization.But when we do something..its immature ???
    Its the write who is the immature idiot..
    People like him is the reason why british and arabs colonized india since 500 years
    The writer is nothing but a slave ..he only understands the language of a slave and will continue to act like a long as there are more slaves like him in our nation…i guarantee you …we will lose every war with pakistan and china..
    See how china never losess a war…they dont have slaves in their country like the writer…but here we have a lot of slaves.
    I feel ashamed of even calling the writer an indian..
    When the PM of india did not attend ..who the hell is sidhu to attend.
    But there is no use in arguing with the slave writer.. He wont understand…unfortunately our constitution gives him the right of freedom of speech…so he will write rubbish…and with the same right ..i will call him a slave pig.

    • Sir
      Moron, idiot, slave, pig… These words were used by you in your comment while addressing the writer about maturity and nationalism…
      Hats off to your maturity dear..

    • You are really a pseudo-indian….you can never think positively, because ur blood is seriously infected….

    • Wow, what a cultured response from Mr. Vichattu! The word “slaves” is mentioned several times in his erudite comment. The real slaves are people like him – slaves to hatred and bigotry

  25. Education isn’t the only way society turns mature. Nor being the sixth largest economy. Rationale and logical reasoning, when it starts escaping from the minds of the people, then, such flaws show up. And it is upon the political leadership to bring around such sense in the society.

  26. Very positive article. There is a need to change mindset of indian civil and military bureaucracy as well as political and media organizations. Pakistan is vulnerable to Indian threats from day one. It has already been divided into two. Threat is real and still relevant. India has no threat to its existence from Pakistan. The continued hostile relations are not beneficial for the people of both sides. India has to change the mindset before it takes the first step. In a core friendly environment, Kashmir will not remain an issue. No abuses from Indian friends please.

  27. Have seen a lot of videos of Imran Khan – including Walk the Talk at Davos – in the last few days. Covering his life’s journey in cricket and politics, his personal life, his mission to build a cancer hospital in honour of his mother. Observed how he has evolved as a more mature person, dealing with people across the entire spectrum of power, privilege and sophistication, grounded enough to do so well in the recent election. 2. If PM Imran Khan enjoys the trust of the military, that makes it easier, more productive for India to have a serious dialogue with his government. It could start with the SAARC summit, gather momentum after our general election is over. Our current Pakistan policy is not working.

  28. What is happening is wrong at two levels. First, foreign policy, especially while dealing with as old and stubborn a relationship as this one, ought not to be politicised, mined for electoral benefit. That ill serves the national interest. Second, at a personal level, there is much greater familiarity and warmth between ordinary Indians and Pakistanis than exists between Indians and Chinese. That is not a force strong enough to overcome the institional hostility that has built up over decades, true, but it allows for some facets of a nearly normal relationship to be nurtured. Great pity that opportunity is being thrown away.

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