Concluding his much-anticipated and closely-watched three-day trip to Pakistan on a high note, Indian Foreign Minister S M Krishna termed his interactions “very fruitful”.
“After seven years, we had a joint commission meeting of India and Pakistan with the Pakistani foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar … it was a very fruitful visit,” Krishna said while addressing the media at Lahore airport.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the people of India would like to see a stable and peaceful Pakistan, Krishna said. The foreign minister said he had discussions with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in Islamabad.
“We were able to make a few decisions; we signed the visa liberalisation pact and a cultural pact. All this is going to help foster a much more cordial relationship between the two countries,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Krishna paid his respects at Data Darbar and Gurdwara Dera Sahib and visited Minar-e-Pakistan.
He also dined with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and met Governor Latif Khan Khosa.
During his meeting with Governor Khosa, Krishna candidly said that all problems could not be resolved in one meeting.
India and Pakistan must strive to maintain the trust between the two countries, he said.
The governor seconded Krishna, adding that all issues, including Kashmir, should be resolved through dialogue.
Luncheon with Shahbaz
Progress and prosperity for the people of Pakistan and India lies in the time-honoured principle of peaceful co-existence, for which meaningful dialogue must continue between the two countries, said the Punjab chief minister at the luncheon in Krishna’s honour.
Shahbaz said that Pakistan and India have already fought wars, which proved to be quite useless.
Both countries, instead, can benefit from each other’s experiences in commerce, industry, education, health, technology and other sectors, he said.
It is time to quit the arms race and compete in the fields of transfer of technology, tourism, productivity and cultural exchange.
He lauded the new, liberalised visa regime and cited the example of European countries that were at loggerheads for centuries but are now cooperating as part of a European Union.
He threw his weight behind the normalisation of ties at the federal level, and emphasised that the process was initiated during the government of his brother, Nawaz Sharif.
Krishna acknowledged Nawaz’s role in the peace process and called him the “biggest flag-bearer for betterment of relationship between Pakistan and India”.
India and Pakistan are moving towards better relations which will strengthen the process of confidence-building, he said, adding that Indian premier Singh is also interested in strengthening relations with Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 10th, 2012.
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