Cricketer turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu on Thursday beamed at the invitation extended to him by soon-to-be Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan for his swearing-in ceremony.
Exuding confidence in Khan, Sidhu called him a ray of hope. "It's a huge honour for me. It's a personal invitation from him and not a political one. He has risen from scratch in politics, he has exhibited great character. I see him as a ray of hope," Sidhu said.
On attending the event a time when the relations between India and Pakistan are not tensed, Sidhu said that this was not a political visit but in fact, he has been called in a personal capacity. "I respect the foreign policy of the government and the country, but this is a personal invitation," he said adding that sports persons and artists break barriers.
Khan has decided against inviting foreign leaders and celebrities to his oath-taking ceremony as he reportedly wants to keep the event very simple. The 65-year-old leader is expected to take oath on August 11.
His party Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had initially planned to invite several foreign leaders and personalities, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bollywood superstar Amir Khan and Indian cricketers to the event. However, on Thursday, he opted against a fancy ceremony.
"It has been decided that no foreign personalities will be invited to the ceremony it will be a completely national event. Only a few close friends of Imran Khan will be invited. There will be no show of extravagance at the event," PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry said.
However, he added that some foreign friends of Imran will be invited to the event. "A few of Imran's friends are the only foreign nationals being invited to the event," he said.
After his party's victory in the elections, Khan has pledged to take austerity measures to save taxpayers money. He had announced that he would not move into the Prime Minister's House and a final decision on the fate of the building would be decided by the party.
PTI had emerged as the single largest party in the elections held on July 25.