New Delhi: Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was at the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi earlier in the day, said that he has applied for government permission and sought political clearance from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), ahead of his visit to Pakistan to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister-designate Imran Khan.
Speaking to the media before leaving the Pakistan High Commission, Sidhu elucidated, “I came here for some formalities. I have applied for government permission. I sought political clearance from MEA. Everything now depends on the Indian government’s permission.”
On August 11, Sidhu was invited by Khan after the latter extended a personal invite in a telephonic conversation. According to Punjab’s Information and Public Relations Department, Khan also thanked Sidhu for praising him in a press conference on August 2.
Sidhu then informed the Union Home Ministry and the office of the Chief Minister of Punjab regarding his intention to attend the swearing-in ceremony and also revealed that he was in talks with former Indian skipper Kapil Dev, who has also been invited to the event.
While addressing a presser in Chandigarh, Sidhu underlined that the invite for the oath-taking ceremony was a personal one. He said, “He (Imran Khan) has risen from the scratch in politics, he has exhibited great character. I see him as a ray of hope. It is a huge honour for me. It is a personal invitation from him and not a political one. I respect the foreign policy of the Government (of India) and the country, but this is a personal invitation. I believe sportspersons and artistes break barriers.”
Last week, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party announced that Khan’s oath-taking ceremony would take place at the President House in Islamabad on August 18.