NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Tuesday that Navjot Singh Sidhu's gesture of hugging Pakistan's army chief impacted soldiers back home and asserted that the Punjab minister could have "avoided it".
Cricketer-turned-politician Sidhu had courted controversy by hugging Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa during his visit to Pakistan for the swearing-in of Imran Khan as Prime Minister.
He had claimed that he did so as Bajwa told him that the Pakistan government was working for opening of the Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims from Indian state of Punjab.
"Sidhu has a lot of admirers. Somebody of that stature going there and then hugging the chief of the army, an army about which in India we have very clear feelings, it certainly has an impact on soldiers, it demoralises the people.
I wish Sidhu would have avoided it (hug)," she said during an interaction at the Indian Women's Press Corp (IWPC).