Those who talk of damaging the Calcutta pitch won't be doing any justice to the long-lasting relationship between Pakistan and India, said Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vijay Jolly on Tuesday, referring to Hindu extremists' threat to dig up the pitch if Pakistan's cricket team plays on Indian soil.
An Indian delegation headed by Jolly, which includes banker Vijay Mehta and Urdu journalist Lubna Asif, came to the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday and shared their thoughts at a seminar titled 'Pakistan-India relations and role of media.'
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Jolly said he wholeheartedly supports the arrival of Pakistani cricket in India. The Indian political leader said while he was proud to be associated with the BJP, Narendra Modi came to power because the minority supported him.
However, he said they had not come to Pakistan with a political agenda, and instead came to increase people-to-people ties.
"India wants friendship with Pakistan," he said, terming the prime ministers of India and Pakistan important players in the peace process.
The Indian leader stressed on free trade, claiming that it will lead to economic liberation. He also demanded an easy visa regime between the two neighbours.
Jolly mentioned he also got the opportunity to visit his father's house in Lahore, which he had left before Partition. "It was a nostalgic moment for me…another homecoming," he said with tears in his eyes.
He said when school children were killed in a deadly attack in Peshawar [in 2015], the [Modi-led Indian] parliament passed a resolution [expressing solidarity with victims], and their schools observed two minutes of silence.
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The trio, which is leaving on Thursday, said they came by road and would be going the same way via Wagah Border as they wanted to experience problems faced by common people when travelling between India and Pakistan.
Mehta said there have been serious wars among European countries throughout history, but they have moved on, while people in India and Pakistan remain emotional, and keep remembering and sticking to what happened in 1947.
Talking about the media's role, he said front pages of newspapers should be changed and there should be more positive news.
Asif said people of the two countries shared the same food, dress, culture and language.
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"We also want India to play in Pakistan's cricket grounds," she said, stressing that there should be more cultural and social exchanges.
Asif said there were 1,000 Urdu newspapers in India, whose condition were similar to Pakistani newspapers. She said unwanted elements should not be put on the front page of the newspaper.
A weekend visa scheme should be initiated between Amritsar and Lahore, as they are so close, suggested Asif. She also questioned the city-specific visa policy of both the countries, saying the same does not happen when one applies for a visa to other countries.
The seminar was also addressed by press club secretary AH Khanzada, senior journalist Idrees Bakhtiar and Khurshid Abbasi.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2016.
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