Peace activist calls for Pak-India talks

LAHORE - Indian peace activist OP Shah on Friday said that a meaningful dialogue between India and Pakistan was the only way forward to improve relations between the two countries.

Speaking at a round-table discussion on “Pak-India Relations and the way forward”, Shah said that the two neighbours must also build an atmosphere of trust and confidence before resolution of their longstanding disputes.

OP Shah is Chairman of Centre for Peace and progress in India and is visiting Pakistan on the invitation of Pakistan’s former Foreign Minister, Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri.

Pakistan’s former High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik, political and defence analyst Lt-Gen (retd) Ghulam Mustafa, Brig (retd) Farooq Hameed Khan, ex-Ambassador Zafarul Haq, senior journalist Rashid Rahman and Begum Mehnaz Rafi participated in the discussion which was moderated by noted journalist Mujeebur Rehman Shami.

While answering different questions, OP Shah said that not a single political party in India could take a major policy decision on resolution of contentious issues with Pakistan.

“There has to be a national consensus achieved in a sitting of different political parties in India on how to move forward to normalise relations with Pakistan”, he said.

Talking about Kashmir dispute, he said that it was a complex issue requiring sensitive and intelligent handling by the two countries.

He said that a wider section of public opinion in India supported normalisation of relations with Pakistan but still there were some voices against it.

He also stressed the need for people-to-people contact to create conducive environment for a purposeful dialogue between the two neighbours. 

Talking about his numerous visits to Srinagar, he said that people of that City wanted the governments of India and Pakistan to sit together on the negotiation table to stop ceasefire violations on the Line of Control.

“They also desire that there should be a porous border as much as possible to allow mutual trade and free movement of people from one country to another”, he added.

Shah argued that India and Pakistan could build their relations on the philosophy of non-violence as practiced and preached by Mahatma Gandhi. “Violence complicates problems and destroys the society”, he said.

He also said that the two countries need to have a serious introspection and to develop an understanding of limitations and compulsions of each other.

He also said that if the two countries had any confusion on how to move forward, they should think of the common man.

“They should take steps which benefit the common man in the two countries”, he added.

Earlier, Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri in his address said that a war between India and Pakistan was not a possibility since the two countries had already tried this option.

“They are less likely even to engage in a conventional war what to talk of the nuclear war”, he maintained, adding, that the only thing the two countries could do was to destabilise each other through proxy wars.

He believed that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have to review his hostile policy towards Pakistan, failing which, his party was sure to lose the next elections.


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