Media urged to be positive to promote peace efforts
By: Intikhab Hanif
LAHORE: Federal Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira on Friday highlighted the importance of peace between Pakistan and India for the welfare of their people, asking the media to play a positive role in this connection so that governments of both the countries could move forward.
He was speaking at the inaugural session of the Pakistan-India Media Conference at the Lahore Press Club.
Leader of the House in Senate and PPP Secretary-General Jahangir Badr announced that 1009 items on the negative list of trade with India would be withdrawn in December and said the time had come for both the countries to think of introducing a common currency for countering pressures of US dollar, UK pound sterling and Euro.
Besides local media persons, around 40 Indian journalists are attending the conference arranged by the Lahore Press Club along with Chandigarh Press Club and Delhi’s Press Club of India.
The information minister said peace between India and Pakistan was very important for which both the countries were actively engaged at different levels. There had been positive developments in this regard in the past too but misunderstandings on some occasions nullified all efforts.
“Both the countries have learnt a lot from the past derailments of the peace process. And the beauty of the current efforts is the resolve that no incident will be allowed to stall the dialogue for peace. They do realize that war only creates problems,” he said.
Mr Kaira said the time had come for both the countries to open their borders for mutual trade as was done by the European Union. At one time their economies were operating within their borders. But now they could interact while maintaining their borders, he said.
He cited how the international community built a monster (of warriors) in Pakistan to counter Russia and left the region without handling it. The monster afterwards started eating up the fabric of Pakistan which had a tolerant society and “we are now single-handedly fighting it (terrorism) with our meager resources, sacrificing precious lives and our economy in the process.”
He said India too had extremist elements but both the countries would have to move forward and take decisions for the betterment of their people without caring for such opponents of peace.
Urging newspersons in both the countries to work for peace, he mentioned how a breakthrough achieved in a meeting with the prime ministers of both the countries in Egypt was opposed by the Indian media. “Our media would have acted in the same manner if the concessions were granted by our prime minister,” he regretted.
Mr Kaira demanded screening of Pakistani films and television channels in India besides allowing Pakistani media have correspondents there. “We are already allowing this and India must reciprocate as this will further improve relations between the two countries,” he said.
He urged holding of mutual sports events while mentioning the IPL as a major source of creating goodwill, exchange of visits by youth, students and women, and permit-based permission to the elderly to visit their ancestral places.
Jahangir Badr who is a part of the parliamentary level peace dialogue between the two countries mentioned how his party and its governments had been trying to improve relations with India.
Lahore Press Club President Arshad Ansari, Press Club of India Secretary-General Anil Anand and Chandigarh Press Club President Sukhbir Singh Bajwa also spoke on the occasion.