New Delhi, Aug 21: Punjab Minister and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu on Tuesday defended his visit to Pakistan, saying that it was not political.
Sidhu also clarified that he had received permission to visit Pakistan from EAM Minister Sushma Swaraj.
"I received invitation 10 times. Then I sought permission from Indian government, I didn't get permission & was waiting. 2 days after Pakistan government gave visa, Sushma Swaraj Ji herself called me in the night & informed that I have been given permission," he claimed.
Speaking to news agency ANI, Sidhu said, "Many people from Congress have spoken on this including Captain Sahab. Its a democracy and everyone has the right to their opinion: Navjot Singh Sidhu on Punjab CM's statement against him for hugging Pak Army Chief."
The cricketer-turned-politician also invoked former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's bus trip to Pakistan.
He further said that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to meet the then Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif without any invitation.
"In the past also efforts for peace have been made. Late Vajpayee ji had taken 'dosti bus' to Lahore, invited Musharraf. PM Modi invited Nawaz Sharif to oath-taking, he also went suddenly to Lahore."
"Many people from Congress have spoken on this, including Captain Sahab. It is a democracy and everyone has the right to their opinion."
Navjot Singh Sidhu had been widely criticised for his presence in Pakistan. He was also slammed for hugging Pakistan Army Chief.