New Delhi: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan courted controversy as a video of him allegedly having a conversation with his colleagues about cricketer-turned -politician Navjot Singh Sidhu’s presence at the Kartarpur Corridor inauguration went viral Sunday.
In the the video, Khan can purportedly be heard indicating that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government would not deny Sidhu permission to attend the historic event since it would make the former cricketer a ‘hero’.
“Achha, humara woh Sidhu kidhar hai? Main keh raha hoon humara woh Siddhu kidhar hai? (Where is our Sidhu? I’m asking you where is Sidhu?)” asks Khan.
“Agar woh nahi aane dete toh unke liye bohot negative message hota (If he (Sidhu) doesn’t come, it will end negatively for them (Modi government),” says Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Information and Broadcasting Minister.
Khan then inquires about former Indian PM Manmohan Singh. “Manmohan aa gaya hai (Has Manmohan come)?”
His team confirms that Singh has come.
Firdous then goes back to the discussion on Sidhu.
“Sidhu ko rokna… (unclear). Usko rokenge toh (If they stop him),” responds Awan, before Khan interrupts, “use hero banayenge (they will make him a hero).”
“Sari channels par yehi news hogi (All news channels will carry just this news),” Awan adds.
The former Punjab cabinet minister and senior Congress leader is one of the few leaders who visited the Pakistan inauguration. But the run-up to his visit had been mired in controversy. Sidhu wrote to External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar twice for permission to visit the opening.
I can totally understand when Imran Khan said “Hamara Siddhu” but how dare did he address a man of his father’s age and senior statesman as “Manmohan aa gaya” how dare he ? pic.twitter.com/xcCEVBmVLU
— Yo Yo Funny Singh (@moronhumor) November 10, 2019
Video surfaces day after inauguration
The video surfaced barely a day after the Kartarpur Corridor inauguration Saturday that is being seen as a thaw in the frosty India-Pakistan ties. In his address at the event, Modi thanked Khan for “understanding the sentiments of India”.
“I thank Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Niazi,” Modi said. “He understood India’s feelings on the Kartarpur Corridor issue, gave respect and, keeping in view those feelings, worked accordingly.”
Khan, however, didn’t let the opportunity slide to comment on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir that has been a flashpoint between the two countries ever since the BJP government decided to scrap the state’s special status by revoking Article 370.
In the presence of a large Indian delegation, Khan said, “Kashmiris were still being treated like animals.”
Modi Saturday flagged off the first batch of over 500 Indian pilgrims. The delegation was led by Akal Takhat Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh, and included Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Singh.
Modi met Singh and his wife at the inauguration and had a brief conversation.
The corridor was inaugurated for the public on the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev.
- The copy has been updated to correct the fact that Imran Khan and Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan were talking about Navjot Singh Sidhu and not former PM Manmohan Singh as earlier reported.