Contact between people is important. It is all the more important when it comes at the official level and involves India and Pakistan. As we all know, it is vital that the two countries establish more harmonious ties if the region is to find the peace it has sought for so long.
In this sense, the visit by a delegation consisting of Pakistani parliamentarians and businessmen to New Delhi and Bihar is important. Parliamentarians, of course, have the power to change opinions in assemblies and influence people within their own constituencies. It is, therefore, important that they gain the opportunity to meet up with their counterparts in India and thus gain a first-hand experience of life in India and the prevailing opinions there. This is also important as it will enable us to look at things from the Indian side of the fence where bias is no less common than in our own country.
What is also significant is that the delegation led by the deputy chairman of the Senate, Sabir Baloch, is to encourage yet further contact at the provincial level for the future. Haji Muhammad Adeel, the representative from Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa and Khurram Dastagir, from Punjab, are both expected to invite parliamentarians from Bihar to visit Pakistan and their respective parts of the country so that dialogue can continue. This is an important process. Until now, too much of the news on crossing borders is gained through sometimes inaccurate media accounts rather than genuine events. The real views of ordinary people — who for the most part seek an improvement in their lives — do not cross borders.
The parliamentary delegation’s visit can help change matters. It is expected that a fairly wide range of issues will be discussed, with businessmen forming a part of the contingents crossing the Wagah Border also likely to put forward their own concerns and suggestions. What we need, however, are many more visits like this one. We must hope that these links can be expanded and ways found to build the structure for a solid relationship that can lead us towards cooperation we so badly need with our eastern neighbour.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2012.
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