BIHAR: Being dubbed as a runaway success, the visit of a Pakistani delegation to India - ahead of the visit of Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna - was warmly welcomed by the Indian parliamentarians in Bihar.
Lawmakers from both sides recommended radical confidence-building measures including easy travel and trade across the border and visa-free access for educationists and senior citizens.
The Pakistani delegation held intense discussions with Indian parliamentarians led by senior leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) Yashwant Sinha and former foreign minister and Congress member Mani Shankar Aiyar.
The members of the delegation suggested that both Pakistan and India should allow each others’ citizens to travel across the border in their own vehicles and should not be bound to report to police in order to avoid undue harassment. They also recommended visa-free access for those associated with the education sector and the senior citizens.
The recommendations further included the removal of ban imposed on news and entertainment channels and called for promotion of artists and media persons across the border.
The parliamentarians urged the two governments to quickly implement the trade-related agreements and finalise the details of trade of energy-related products.
Discussing the issue of fake SMSes allegedly emanating from Pakistan, the parliamentarians asked the Indian government to provide evidence for their claims.
Indian Home Secretary RK Singh had alleged that text messages and emails originating from Pakistan-based URLs had caused widespread panic among the people of North East India, causing them to migrate.
“Even if the hate mails were generated from Pakistan or not, the issue only emphasises the reasons why are we here in India; we are here to create a positive atmosphere,” MNA Khurram Dastagir said.
Responding to questions about Hindus from Pakistan crossing over to India due to alleged ill-treatment, Khan said: “As far as we know, no Pakistani Hindu has so far applied for political asylum here. The government is dealing with this problem and the Supreme Court has also taken note of it.”
Liberal visa regime
Welcoming the forthcoming meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in Islamabad from September 7 to 9, the parliamentarians stressed the need to sign the proposed liberal visa regime agreement during the meeting.
They also stated that the heath-related travel and religious tourism should also be made easier as early as possible.
The Pakistani and Indian lawmakers admitted that time was ripe to resolve long-standing disputes such as Siachen and Sir Creek.
The delegations agreed that prisoners who have completed their term should be sent back to their homeland immediately while asked for humanitarian treatment of fishermen and others who inadvertently cross into the territory or territorial waters of the other country.
Answering to a question regarding Sarabjeet Singh – an Indian prisoner in Pakistan jail, the delegates again repeated that those who have completed their jail term should be repatriated to their respective country at the earliest.
Commending the efforts of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Jahangir Badr and Senator Haji Adil invited him to visit Pakistan.
The delegation also visited Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, a major centre of the cultural heritage of the Indian subcontinent in particular and the Islamic world in general, of the mediaeval period. The members recalled the visit by Pakistani scholars, researchers, poets and authors like Ahmad Faraz, Intezar Husain, Fatima Hasan and Ayesha Jalal to this place.