‘India praying for you’, Navjot Sidhu hopes for safety, early return of IAF pilot

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Chandigarh, Feb 27 (IANS) Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who counts Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan as a friend, on Wednesday prayed for the well-being and early return of captured Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Abhinandan Varthaman.

In a poetic tweet on Wednesday, Sidhu said that the whole of India was praying for his well-being and return home from Pakistani captivity.

“Wing Commander Abhinandan akele nahi ho aap, Hindustan ekjut hokar aapki salamati aur ghar wapsi ki dua kar raha hai… dua hai ki aap ki hasti kuch aisa nazara ho jaaye, kashti bhi utre maujon par, toofan hi kinara ho jaaye (Wing Commander Abhinandan, you are not alone, Hindustan has become one in praying for your safety and return home, (we) pray that your presence takes such a form, that even if the boat leaves you on the waves, the storm itself becomes the shore),” he posted.

India on Wednesday said that a Pakistan fighter jet was shot down in the aerial engagement between the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) but it lost one of its MiG-21s, with its pilot, later identified as Varthaman, the son of a retired Air Marshal, in Pakistani custody. It has demanded he be handed back to India.

Sidhu, who takes every opportunity to harp on his friendship with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, a former cricketer like himself, has been under fire in recent days from various quarters for defending Pakistan in the aftermath of the February 14 Pulwama terror attack which left 40 CRPF troopers dead.

On Tuesday, after India announced the air strikes of a Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot, Sidhu tweeted: “In the war of right & wrong, You can not afford to be neutral, The war against terror outfits is spot on… Bravo Indian Air Force @IAF_MCC Jai Hind.”

Sidhu was, however, trolled after his earlier comments defending Pakistan.

“Wherever wars are fought and such things (Pulwama-type attack) happen, dialogue also continues simultaneously.

“There is a need to find a permanent solution (to issues between India and Pakistan). Such people (terrorists) have no religion, no country and no caste. When a snake bites, its antidote is also snake poison,” he had posted, seeking to justify his take on the dialogue between the two nations.

Though Sidhu condemned the Pulwama terror attack on the CRPF convoy, he added that the entire nation (Pakistan) could not be blamed for the actions of a handful of people.

This had earned him flak, but he had defended his comments claiming that his statement was “deliberately distorted” as the people were scared of him.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who does not agree with his minister on many issues, had said “everyone had the right to voice their mind and it was up to Navjot Singh Sidhu to explain his stand”.

–IANS

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