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Beyond borders: Amarinder’s heart ‘problems’

Chandigarh, March 26: He’s the big Indian politician with a passion for closer relations with Pakistan. She’s a hotshot Pakistani defence and diplomacy expert courted by Presidents.

Yet, when Aroosa Alam and red-blooded Amarinder Singh were thrown together, whether by destiny or design, tongues began wagging.

The cross-border ties the Islamabad-based journalist and the former Punjab chief minister were boosting had little to do with Kashmir, cricket or CBMs, went the refrain.

Alam has now denied reports that she has married Amarinder.

An Islamabad-based daily had broken the story of the “wedding”, which was picked up by an Indian news channel.

Shiromani Akali Dal leader Simranjit Singh Mann, whose wife is Amarinder’s sister-in-law, added to the speculation. He suggested that the just ousted chief minister, in London now for a heart check-up, had gone abroad because of “heart problems of a different kind”.

“Literally speaking, his heart is sound. Besides, good treatment is available in India. But metaphorically, his heart has been stolen by the lady from Pakistan who has taken him to London,” Mann said.

Amarinder’s wife Preneet, MP from Patiala, has kept up a stoic silence. Amarinder has denied either a “wedding” or an “affair”, but declined to take legal action against the media.

Akali Dal general secretary and MP Sukhbir Badal has demanded a central probe, alleging Alam has ISI links.

The lady is believed to have done a course in military strategy last year at Pakistan’s National Defence College, which normally admits only senior officers — enough reason for many to smell a rat.

But Alam is no run-of-the-mill scribe — she was a member of President Pervez Musharraf’s entourage to the US, and was part of a team that visited Srinagar last year.

The journalist, who has made numerous trips to Punjab, was honoured by Amarinder on June 3 last year at the Jalandhar press club.

Replying to an email query from this correspondent, Alam has said: “I am deeply depressed to see such report(s) from such responsible networks, that too without having spoken to me. This was (the) least I had expected from my friends in (the) media…. Anyway, it is not correct.

“On my side, the subject is even more sensitive. I only hope that my friends in (the) media respect my privacy and don’t land me in a difficult situation.”

Alam and Amarinder have reportedly known each other for more than two years. Since then, the Congress leader has made numerous trips to Pakistan, officially to boost confidence-building measures.

“Everyone knows about Amarinder’s and Aroosa’s friendship. It may not have culminated in a wedding, but it can be termed a volatile affair,” a Pakistani journalist said.

Alam’s mother is believed to have been close to General Yahya Khan.

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