Sidhu, the newest Indian pawn in Pakistan’s hand


Navjot Singh Sidhu was a big hitter in cricket, and he is a big hit in politics as well. Except in the wrong way and in the wrong country. He is basking in the praise that has come his way from Pakistan and its Prime Minister Imran Khan. It doesn’t matter to him that all of this is coming in the backdrop of Khan running down India’s elected Government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. And even as Pakistan continues to bleed India by backing terror attacks, and seeks to revive the separatist Khalistan movement in Punjab, a State to which Sidhu belongs and where he is a Minister.

But none of this has impacted the former cricketer’s jubilation of being hailed by an enemy nation. He is so blinded by the adulation that he does not bother to heed even the sentiments of his own Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, in whose regime he is a Minister. Captain Amarinder Singh, however, can do little except frown at the antics of his first-time Minister because Sidhu boasts of party president Rahul Gandhi’s backing. Let along the Captain’s displeasure, Sidhu cares little about the concerns of his own fellowmen across India.

Is he naive? Is he gullible? Or is he simply being petty in using every opportunity that comes his way to cock a snook at the Indian Prime Minister and the Bharatiya Janata Party? The answer to the last is certainly ‘yes’. It’s ‘maybe’ to the first two. Pakistan has lost no time in exploiting him to score points against India. Imran Khan even went to extent of wondering if peace with India would have to wait until Sidhu became the Prime Minister! And he remarked that the Indian Minister could win hands-down if he were to contest an election in Pakistan.

Perhaps Sidhu should take that offer seriously. He seems to be more at home in Pakistan. In fact, he is at home in the company of those who have plotted against and threatened India. He hugged Pakistan’s Army chief, he was seen in the company of a Khalistan leader who only recently had vowed to destroy India. He called the Pakistani Prime Minister an “angel”. That Imran Khan surely is, but as a puppet of the Pakistan Army which has backed and trained militants who launch attacks on Indian soil.

Imran Khan says that the likes of Hafiz Saeed are legacies he has inherited and that curbs have been imposed on Saeed — the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack. He is right about the legacy but he lies on the second. Only days before, a Minister in the Khan Government had shared the stage with Saeed at a public event. It says a lot about the ‘restrictions’ if Saeed freely appears at public functions. The pro-Khalistan who met Sidhu has also been confabulating with Saeed.

Of course, Sidhu cannot be bothered about these little details. He claims to have been oblivious of the Khalistan leader’s antecedents when he met the latter. It demonstrates an unforgivable ignorance. But there are things he most definitely ought to know — and he does, despite his real lack of understanding of issues. One, that his friend Imran Khan is a Pakistan Army stooge. Two, that the Pakistan Army will never allow peace to happen between Indian and Pakistan. Three, even if Imran Khan is sincere about good relations between the two countries (which he is in fact not), the best way to do so is not to run down the Indian Government and say peace would have to wait until there is a regime-change in New Delhi.

Sidhu has been bowled over by the Pakistani Prime Minister’s remark that, if India took one step forward towards good relations, Pakistani would take two. How many of the ‘one step’ is New Delhi supposed to take? Atal Bihari Vajpayee took that one step through the Lahore bus journey, and India got the Kargil conflict in return. Manmohan Singh (whose party is packed with Pakistan apologist such as Mani Shankar Aiyar and Salman Khurshid) reached out to Pakistan, and received 26/11 as a compliment. Narendra Modi made an unscheduled trip to Pakistan to personally greet then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the latter’s birthday, but was given the Pathankot and Uri attacks.

To this day, during the Imran Khan dispensation, Pakistan-based elements continue to plot and conduct terror attacks in Jammu & Kashmir, and India-haters have a free rein. There isn’t one step that the new Pakistani Premier has taken, which offers a ray of hope for better India-Pakistan relations. Unfortunately, the Pakistani propaganda that it is New Delhi which is blocking the process to normalise relations, has takers within India. Sidhu, now an Indian pawn in Pakistan’s hand, is happy to contribute his bit to demean his own country.

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The writer is senior political commentator and public affairs analyst

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