New Delhi: Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, under attack for his recent visit to Pakistan for Imran Khan's swearing-in ceremony and a hug with the Pak army chief, on Tuesday responded to the criticism.
He was also criticised for sitting in the front row, next to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir "president" Masood Khan, during the swearing-in ceremony on Saturday.
"My seat was changed at the last minute. I was told just 5 minutes before ceremony that I was to be seated on front row. I sat wherever they made me sit," he said.
He asserted that his was "not about politics" but a warm invite from an old friend. He said that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had travelled to Lahore on bus and PM Narendra Modi too visited Lahore in 2015 on an unscheduled trip on his way back from an official visit to Afghanistan.
He said that PM Modi had hugged then Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif during that surprise visit. "No one is questioning PM Modi," he said.
On criticism from his own party colleague Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, he said: "I was criticised by the Captain, by top Congress leaders. It is not necessary that if the Captain has spoken against me, I should too."
"You can't try to please everybody. He who tried to, pleases nobody," he added.
On sharing a hug with Pakistani army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, he said it was an "emotional" response.
"The Pak Army chief said they were making efforts to open a corridor from India's Dera Baba Nanak to the historic Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib. What followed was an emotional moment," he said.
"I think it was wrong for him (Navjot Singh) to have shown the affection he did for the Pakistan Army chief, I am not in its favour... The fact is that the man (Mr Sidhu) should understand that our soldiers are being killed everyday. My own regiment lost one major and two jawans a few months ago," Amarinder Singh had said on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Imran Khan has defended his old friend Sidhu saying, "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. Those in India who targeted him are doing a great disservice to peace in the subcontinent - without peace, our people can't progress."