Navjot Singh Sidhu held a tempestuous news briefing on Friday where he once again praised Pakistan to the hilt and said that talks and peace were the only way forward -- this less than a day after the Pakistan Army chief issued a speech where he vowed to avenge the bloodshed at the border.
Speaking at a massive Pakistan Army event at Rawalpindi on Thursday evening, the Pak Army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, a man who Sidhu warmly embraced during the latter's Pakistan visit for Imran Khan's swearing-in, said:
"Our martyrs have sacrificed their lives for the country. We can't compensate for their sacrifice, but I assure you that their sacrifice won't go in vain. We will make Pakistan a haven of peace haven and we will avenge the bloodshed at the border."
However, this appeared to make no impact to Navjot Sidhu who addressed a news briefing over Pakistan's purportedly to-be-announced offer to open up a visa-free Kartarpur Sahib corridor on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak -- the matter over which he said he hugged Bajwa. As per Republic TV's inputs, however, no official communication has been received in this regard by India, despite Sidhu claiming that a decision on the matter was to be made India's government.
Sidhu, a minister in the Congress government in Punjab, had been unrestrained in his praise for Pakistan's "Wazir-e-Azam Khan saab". "He's not walked steps, he's walked miles", Sidhu said, adding, "this opens up infinite possibilities. I'm indebted forever and can't thank him enough".
At certain points, the press conference got very heated, with journalists protesting loudly at Sidhu's remarks, especially along the lines of whether all the never-ending terrorism could be forgotten because of the unverified offer, and this was especially true when he was asked about Bajwa's "will avenge martyrs at border" remark. To this, Sidhu repeatedly said "no comment", before effectively making a case to answer threats with talks:
"If there's peace, there'll be prosperity and the bloodshed will end. What did we get from the last 30-40 years of bloodshed. The only way forward is talks and peace".
Meanwhile, even as one Congress leader was putting up the appearance of being a parallel foreign affairs desk, another was putting pressure on the Indian government over a rumour that the Pakistan Army had quietly reached out to India for talks.