Fehmida, Meira vow to promote peace via parliaments
22 February, 2012
ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza and Indian Lok Sabha Speaker Ms Meira Kumar on Tuesday vowed to strengthen the relations between the two countries and forward the agenda of peace through parliaments of both the countries.
"It's time to make up for the past. It's time to give people what they have always wanted — a mutually respected, peaceful and friendly neighbourhood," said Fehmida Mirza while addressing the dinner hosted by her in the honour of Indian delegation led by Meira Kumar.
The dinner was attended by PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Senate Deputy Chairman Jan Muhammad Jamali, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Law Minister Maula Bukhsh Chandio, Adviser to Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain, parliamentarians from both sides of the aisle in the National Assembly and Senate, besides diplomats.
The speaker of Lok Sabha, who along with 14-member delegation arrived Islamabad on her first ever five-day official visit, addressed the gathering in Urdu and her speech also carried couplets of Ahmed Faraz and Majro Sultan.
Welcoming Meira Kumar, Dr Fehmida Mirza said the flight that took Meira Kumar from New Dehli to Islamabad was little over sixty minutes but in fact travelled over 60 years of 'our common past as two independent neighbours'. "The past is a unique blend of personal affinities and state of acrimonies of common heritage, shared values and same language and yet marred by missed chances and lost opportunities," she added.
She said the two parliaments jointly represented a quarter of the entire world population and the chambers spoke for 'our people who are united in their firm belief in freedom, social justice and democracy'. "Above all, our two legislatures have also collectively written history by electing for the first time women as their presiding officers. This trust of our respective houses is in fact a tribute to the women of the subcontinent for all her sacrifice and for all her strengths," she added.
She said: "Women don't make wars; women make peace. Women don't take life. Women give life". She said it was in this spirit that she had decided to travel Delhi at the midst of tense atmosphere in January 2010. "I did so since in parliamentary diplomacy, I found a hope for a way out. And yes, we succeeded. My proposal for reviving Pak-India parliamentary friendship group instantly met with your approval and new vistas of dialogue opened between us," she added.
She said earlier Tuesday evening, during formal and informal talks, 'we covered a wide range of subjects and identified numerous possible areas of cooperation'. "We noted with satisfaction that the parliamentary friendship groups in our respective parliaments have been established and so we moved to the next stage of making them fully effective and task oriented," she added.
The speaker said she was sure that this process would yield positive results by not only breaking the existing mist but also in finding practical ways to solve the contentious issues, affecting the healthy growth of mutual relationship.
At the same time, the speaker said, she also hoped that such sustained parliamentary contacts would help both countries attain an accelerated pace of bilateral trade, cultural and youth exchange as well as sharing mutual parliamentary experiences. "So tonight I invite you to join me in launching a 'parliamentary drive' to give new meaning, dimensions and future to the Indo-Pak relations. Our steadfastness and determination in this drive will define our success," she added.
Speaking on the occasion, Meira Kumar said the parliament of two countries could play a vital role for bringing peace to both countries. "We have taken a first step and this first step will take us to the final destination of friendship," she added.
In her address that she delivered in Urdu, also talked about that how the game of cricket could bring both nations closer, saying there was same passion in both the countries about the cricket.
She said artists of both countries could also serve as a tool of friendship, adding as in Pakistan the people knew about the Indian artist and reciprocally India also liked Pakistani artists. She said more and frequent visits of artists, players, intellectuals, poets and professionals of both the countries into each other country would bring the people closer.
She said regular interaction between parliamentarians and people of both countries would remove misperceptions against each other and create better understanding. "The parliaments of both the countries could play a vital role in resolving the issues between the two countries through dialogue," she added.
She said India and Pakistan were not only two neighbour countries but also moving towards progress side by side. Earlier, in a meeting at the Parliament House, National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza and Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar agreed that dialogue was the only way forward to address the contentious issues between both countries.
NA deputy speaker Faisal Karim Kundi and members of the Pak-India Friendship Group were also present in the meeting. Talking to her Indian Counterpart, Fehmida Mirza said Pakistan and India shared common problems, therefore, a common strategy needed to be forged to address the problems.
She said regular interaction between the parliamentarians of both countries was the only way forward for solidifying bilateral relations. She said Pakistan had been the victim of terrorism and the terrorism was posing threat to the region.
She said the grant of MNF status to India would further boost commercial activities between the two countries. She also suggested for exploring possibilities of cooperation amongst the Indian and Pakistan institutes of parliamentary services for capacity building of parliamentarians and parliamentary staff.
Meira Kumar reciprocating to the remarks of her Pakistani counterpart said it was indeed a pleasure to visit Pakistan and she had brought with her, message of goodwill, friendship, peace and prosperity for the people of Pakistan. She extended an invitation to Fehmida Mirza to visit India along with a parliamentary delegation. Earlier on arrival at Parliament House, the Lok Sabha speaker was accorded arousing welcome.