Back from India, MPs upbeat about Kashmir visit idea
31 December 2003
The Daily Times
ISLAMABAD: A team of Pakistani parliamentarians, returning from a trip India, said on Wednesday that they had received an encouraging response to a proposal that a delegation of Pakistani parliamentarians should be allowed to visit Srinagar and an Indian parliamentary delegation should tour Muzaffarabad.'In our meeting with Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes, we proposed that the Pakistani delegation should be allowed to visit Srinagar and the Indian team permitted to visit Muzaffarabad and Mr Fernandes assured us that the Indian government will follow up on the proposal,' Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) MNAs Sherry Rehman and Qamaruzzaman Kaira told a press conference.Asked if the Government of Pakistan would accept their proposal, the two maintained that MP Bhindara MNA from the treasury also accompanied them when the proposal was made. 'We had also held discussions with Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar before leaving for India,' Ms Rehman added. She said the three parliamentarians from Pakistan also made the same proposal during a meeting with Brajesh Mishra, the security advisor to Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. 'He also promised to give a positive consideration to the proposal after the SAARC summit,' the PPPP MNA added. She said the Pakistani legislators attended a South Asian Forum of the Indian Lok Sabha where parliamentarians from the SAARC countries were invited.Mr Kaira said they found warmth among the people, government functionaries and parliamentarians towards Pakistan. He said former Indian prime minister IK Gujral said in a meeting with the Pakistani team that the two countries had come closer to a solution of Kashmir through dialogue during former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's governmentMs Rehman said they raised the issue of anti-Pakistan themes in Indian movies during their meetings with the Indian leaders and maintained that such subjects would increase hatred between the two countries. 'The Indian leaders agreed to our point of view,' she added.The three parliamentarians objected to the change of guard ceremony on the Wagah border. 'There is too much militarism in the ceremony wherein anti-India and anti-Pakistan themes not only increase hatred between the people but also cause inconvenience for children and women crossing the border during the ceremony,' Ms Rehman said.