PRESS STATEMENT: Indian peace delegation is back from Pakistan with a message of love & friendship
An Indian Peace Delegation visited Pakistan from 17th to 25th March 2011. During their stay they visited Karachi, Hyderabad, Islamabad and Lahore. They met Pakistan Prime Minister Mr. Yusuf Reza Gilani, Sindh Chief Minister Mr. Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Law makers of various political parties, civil society activists, journalists, members of business community, students amongst others. The 12 member Indian delegation was led by Mr. Kuldip Nayar and included Mr. Mahesh Bhatt, Mr. Bhalchandra Mungekar, Mr. Shahid Siddiqui, Mr. Jatin Desai, Dr. Mazher Hussain, Ms. Kamla Bhasin, Mr. Ramesh Yadav, Mr.Sanjay Nahar, Mr. Haris Kidwai, Mr. Laxmi Prasad. Mr. Krishna Rao.
Mr. Gilani, the PM of Pakistan stated to the delegation that the dialogue was the only way to make progress in India-Pakistan relations. He assured the delegation that his government was fully committed to make the peace process work. He also expressed confidence that the meeting between home secretaries of two countries in Delhi would yield results. He praised the role of civil society in promoting peace between two countries.
Many members of both the house of parliament (National Assembly and Senate) felt that they need to have India-Pakistan Forum of Parliamentarians. The delegation which watched the joint session of Parliament took upon itself the responsibility of setting up such a body which would include former Parliament members as well.
The team members also participated in a seminar on “Revival of Pak-India Dialogue” organized by South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA). While welcoming the dialogue the speakers opined that the dialogue needs to be uninterrupted and uninterruptible. They demanded the release of all fishermen from the prison of each other’s countries and revival of India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners. They also urged upon both the governments to avail the facility of visa on arrival to the senior citizens and children below 12 years as agreed earlier. Visa should be made easily available to the members of divided families. It was also felt there is an immediate necessity of a joint mechanism against terrorism.
The team members also met the family members of Salman Taseer, who was assassinated by his own security guard, for his principled position on Blasphemy Law. Mr. Taseer stood for basic values like human rights and minority rights. The delegation expressed their solidarity with the family of Salman Taseer.
The team is back from Pakistan with a message of love and friendship. Indian establishment and civil society needs to reciprocate it. Certain issues like Siachen, Sir Creek be resolved quickly as they were very close to signing the agreement when the Composite Dialogue was paused following the attacks on Mumbai. The immediate step, the delegation felt, if trade barriers between two countries were removed and trade opened as soon as possible.
One overriding theme constantly emerged during all interactions was the need to have a liberalised visa regime which can encourage the people-to-people contact and exchange of artists, students, researchers, academics, peace activists.
Jatin Desai, Mumbai
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