Indian journalist hopes CBMs to herald new era of peace in region
KARACHI: Munawwar Rahi, a founder member of the Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Development (PIPFPD) and the bureau chief of Current Magazine, a Hindi periodical, has complained that many of the Indian delegates, who attended the sixth PIPFPD convention, were ssued “reporting visas”.
Rahi, who hails from Udaipur of Rajhistan state of India, pointed out that as many as 250 delegates attended the sixth convention of the PIPFPD held in Karachi from December 12 to 14 after the lapse of many years. The next convention might be held in October 2004 in New Delhi.
In an exclusive interview with The News, Rahi said that this was the first time that 250 delegates came from India due to the recent thaw in frosty Pakistan-India relations. He said: “Yes, we had to form a Selection Committee to allow people to go to Pakistan, and all the delegates were selected on merit basis. In India, the PIPFPD does not believe in PR, as the Forum is not a racket and it is serious in its struggle for bringing peace to the Indo-Pak subcontinent and for more friendly ties between India and Pakistan. This is why we selected people on merit basis.”
Rahi referred to many writers, artistes, journalists, representatives of non-governmental organisations, peace activists and political activists who are working for Socialist India cause. They included Ratna Pattak Shah, an actress and wife of a prominent actor Nasiruddin Shah and film director Anad Patwardhan. The participants of the convention were entertained with a stage play, Mughal Bachcha by Ratna and her team.
The veteran journalist said many of the delegates were issued reporting visas. Though he was issued non-reporting visa (for 10 days) but was made bound to stay in Karachi and Lahore and not to move to other parts of Pakistan. Nevertheless, he and the other delegates expected that the confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan would culminate into the establishment of more friendly ties between the two countries and both would burry hatchets and work for the prosperity of their people.
Regarding India’s defence expenditure, Rahi said that if the amount spent on the purchase of one fighter plan was spent on primary education some 500 children would be able to attain the basic education. He said the two countries should take more steps for giving relief to visitors especially those who desired to visit their relatives in the countries.
The Indian journalist said that the Selection Committee had asked the people to deposit Rs1,000 (non-refundable) besides telling them that they would have to bear all their expenses, yet the committee had received a lot of applications from the people who desired to visit Pakistan to attend the PIPFPD sixth convention.
The prevailing conditions are encouraging the Indian people to visit Pakistan for attending cultural and literary events, he added.
Rahi said that a 200-page Urdu language book titled “Pakistan: Doosra Pehloo” written by some enlightened Indian writers was distributed largely in India and it presented healthy social and cultural trends and values prevalent in Pakistan. He suggested that such books should also be written in Pakistan to show the other face of India so the people of the two countries could understand each other
Source: The News