Hug of War: How Navjot Singh Sidhu Became a “Pakistani Puppet”


Hug of War: How Navjot Singh Sidhu Became a “Pakistani Puppet”

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

How is it possible that India has been thrashed 4-1 in England but I’m the one having the worse summer? Nirmala Sitharaman claimed soldiers are demoralised after I hugged the Pakistani army chief. I didn’t know the soldiers were counting on my trips and who I hugged for their morale boost. I wish she’d told me advance so I could single-handedly have solved the India-Pakistan military conflict… by not hugging Qamar Javed Bajwa. Harsimrat Kaur Badal said I’m a puppet of the Pakistani government and I take great offence to that. I may have been a laughter track on TV for over a decade but one thing I am not, is a puppet.

Here’s a confession: When I kept saying “thoko thoko” on television all these years, I didn’t know some people might take it literally. I am appalled at the Bajrang Dal announcing a ₹5 lakh bounty on my head. Is that all my life is worth? For fuck’s sake, I scored four back-to-back half-centuries at the 1987 World Cup! I am a friggin’ minister in the Punjab government right now! The price on my life won’t even be enough to fetch you an exclusive leaked photo of Taimur.

Yes, I travelled to Pakistan for Imran Khan’s swearing-in. So what? It was sweet of him to invite me. But I’ll let you in on a secret: We pretend to be cricket buddies, but the truth is that he gave me nightmares with his bowling. So I accepted his invitation as opportunity to take revenge and ruin his big day by complaining about the food and decoration. I think the biryani could have been spicier and some of the shers in Imran’s speech were hella weak, guru!

But before I could cause any controversy, I found out that the deed was already done because of who I sat with and who I hugged. I thought such petty judgement was only reserved for women in the two countries. But I was mistaken.

To be honest, I was hoping to sit next to Shahid Afridi but I couldn’t spot him; maybe he’s again returned to cricket after announcing his retirement for the 15th time. So I was seated next to the PoK President. I must point out that I’ve always been weak at musical chairs and I never know when to make a move. Look at my career, it took me a year to even switch from BJP to the Congress. What was I meant to do? Should I have just lifted my chair and started moving like I’m at a desi wedding? As a Sikh in India, the last thing I want is to become another meme.

All I was trying to do was bat for peace across the border, but who knew that I’d get a hit wicket back at home.

The second reason that upset a lot of people is that I hugged Pakistan’s army chief. For the life of me, I can’t figure out what is wrong with that? If trade and commerce can continue, if India can enjoy Taher Shah and Pakistan can love Dhinchak Pooja, why can’t I embrace someone from across the border? When Modi ji had biryani with Nawaz Sharif, it was all chak de phatte. But I hug a guy for two seconds and people lose their shit. What is one supposed to do at a formal event when someone smiles and opens their arms towards you? Didn’t Munnabhai always talk about jadoo ki jhappi?

All I was trying to do was bat for peace across the border, but who knew that I’d get a hit wicket back at home. Some people are saying that I’m not a real sardar while others have questioned my patriotism. One chap has even filed a sedition case against me, and my own Chief Minister has criticised my visit. And as if all this weren’t bad enough, I am now getting praise from Pakistani leaders, cricketers, and media. Don’t you guys understand? Hate from India is bad, but love from Pakistan is even worse.

All for going to someone’s party, sitting next to one person, and hugging another person. Even my road rage that resulted in a death didn’t draw as much attention. Thanks for nothing, Imran Khan. We might have left the cricket field but yet again, one of your spells is giving me sleepless nights.

Like I always say, “Troubles are like babies, the more you nurse them, the more they grow”.