Speakers assail media for undermining peace efforts
LAHORE: Speakers at the Nirmala Deshpande Memorial Seminar on Tuesday slammed electronic media in India and Pakistan for undermining peace efforts and spreading vitriol.
The speakers criticised the media for exacerbating tension between the two countries and spreading hatred. They also stressed the need for cordial relations between the two states for India and Pakistan to prosper. Labh Singh Khewa asked why India and Pakistan had failed to follow the precedent set by the European Union and set aside their differences. He stressed the need for active collaboration between the two states. Khewa said the need for unity among India and Pakistan was greater than that for the countries of the EU as they were more stable than the two nations. He said other South Asian countries including Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka were waiting for India and Pakistan to foster regional harmony and strengthen bilateral ties.
Khewa stressed the need for open borders in the subcontinent to alleviate poverty. He said the concept of just war was understandable but fighting at the behest of foreign forces was simply futile. Khewa asked why a division existed between the people of India and Pakistan despite the synonymy of their history, culture and geography.
Hussain Naqi said the elites of India and Pakistan had held their governments hostage to their whims. He said they were preventing them from moving in the right direction. Naqi said the states had been spending hefty amounts of money on procuring state-of-the-art weaponry while nearly a billion of their citizens were living below the poverty line. He also slammed the media for exacerbating the divide between the people of India and Pakistan.
Ravnit Kaur said Pakistani clothes were very popular in India. She said Indian women preferred Pakistani apparel over Indian apparel. Kaur said there was a massive market for Pakistani clothes in India. She said economic cooperation could result in a win-win situation for both states.
Pushpendra Kumar Kulshrestha said 14 members of the original delegation had declined to visit Pakistan citing security concerns. He said such extremist elements should be dealt with caution. Kulshrestha said the time was ripe to formulate a new strategy with regard to strengthening bilateral relations. He said both states should set aside preconceived notions when dealing with each other.
Education Minister Rana Mashhood and Qamar Zaman Kaira of the Pakistan Peoples Party also stressed the need for promoting bilateral trade and castigating the media for its negative attitude. Musician Jawad Ahmed was also present on the occasion. A 16-member Indian delegation attended the seminar on the invitation of the South Asia Partnership-Pakistan.
Ramesh Kumar Yadav, an Indian journalist, was presented with the South Asia Peace & Justice Award on the occasion. The award has been constituted in Deshpande’s memory.