LAHORE: PML-N President Nawaz Sharif has commended India for constituting a commission on the Kargil issue and deplored that some elements were still opposing a similar commission in Pakistan.
However, he hoped that a commission on Kargil would be constituted one day in Pakistan to find the truth. Addressing a seminar on “Building Bridges Together” in connection with Independence Day organised by the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA)
on Saturday, Nawaz said that Pakistan and India should have competition in economic reforms rather than competing with each other in an arms race.
He said India and Pakistan shared common heritage, habits and culture. He supported continuing dialogue between the two countries to solve all problems. He was of the view that the two countries should work together in infrastructure development as well as for the close economic ties.
He said India and Pakistan should forget the past and move forward with a positive approach. Nawaz said Islam preaches maintaining cordial relationship with neighbours. Pakistan should maintain ideal and peaceful relationships with its neighbours, including India, as part of Islamic teachings, he added.
He said Pakistan and India needed to resolve bilateral issues and increase trade for the betterment of the people in two countries. He said the arms race between the two countries had damaged their social sector and infrastructure.
Referring to his peace efforts as the prime minister of Pakistan, he said Musharraf sabotaged the entire process. He said he had invited Vajpayee to Lahore to write a new chapter of bilateral relations between the two countries but Pervez Musharraf had different thoughts. He claimed that he found Vajpayee a courageous person who was seriously working to resolve bilateral issues between the two neighbouring countries. Nevertheless, Nawaz admitted that he was initially a bit reluctant on it.
He said Vajpayee had complained that Pakistan on one side was negotiating peace with India and on the other, it had stabbed it in the back through the Kargil expedition. Nawaz said he would have the same feelings if he had been in place of Vajpayee. He said year 1999 could have been declared a resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir issue, if the peace initiative was allowed to continue.
He said that unfortunately during the past 60 years both countries were blaming each other for any sad incident in their countries, adding, “We should change this culture of blaming each other.”
He said he was thankful to India which made Pakistan a nuclear state. “If India had not conducted nuclear tests, Pakistan would never have responded to it in the same coin,” he said, adding the tests paved the way for an increasing desire for peace and harmony among the two nations and eventually resulted into the Lahore Declaration.
Talking about achievements of his tenure as prime minister, Nawaz said he had completed motorway in time and planned to expand it to Kabul and Tashkent but his government was toppled and he was sent to Jeddah. He claimed that it was the responsibility of India to bulid a road to connect Wahga to Kolkata. He said trade with India could solve many problems.
He said India and Pakistan shared identical culture and heritage and there was only one thing that separated them and that was the border. He said everyone should try to maintain cordial relations between the two countries.
Concluding his speech, Nawaz said in a light mood that he was often said to be fond of Sri-Payaa (trotters) but in fact he had never eaten the dish as he liked traditional food like mutton with vegetable.
Prof Sucha Singh Gill said good relations between neighboring countries were vital for their economic growth. Citing a recent report by the World Bank, he said the annual growth rate of countries which suffered internal conflict or had bad relations with neighbouring countries went down by two percent.
Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif said, “We have to make collective efforts for restoring the image of the country throughout the world. We will have to take a bold stance for eliminating terrorism.”
He was addressing the inaugural function of a “Photo Festival” held under the aegis of the Information, Culture and Youth Affairs Department, Punjab, and the Lahore Photo Journalists Association at Jilani Park.
Nawaz said Pakistan is a gift of Quaid-i-Azam and people have to come forward to change its destination. He said the present government had spared no effort for maligning the image of the country and outsiders took full benefit of it and imposed wrong policies on Pakistan. He said that time had come that the dignity of the country could be restored.
“It is only possible if we respect the judiciary, abide by the law, forge national unity and outsiders are not allowed to become part our foreign policy,” he added.