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KARACHI: Pakistan, India urged to lift visa restriction

March 27, 2006

KARACHI, March 26: Pakistani and Indian governments should go one step forward in taking the confidence-building measures by lifting visa restriction and provide the peoples of the two countries with the opportunity to come closer, said the Indian visitors of the World Social Forum 2006.

Priti Tiwari, the assistant programme director of an NGO, Ekta Parishad, narrated her experience of travelling to Pakistan. She is a member of the 14-member Indian delegation participating in the WSF events.

“I told my family over cell-phone about going to Pakistan just before crossing the Wahga border. My family was shocked to learn about my departure. I was also nervous as I have never been to Pakistan,” Ms Tiwari said.

She said that she got love and affection from Pakistani people beyond her expectations. “We did not buy foodstuff all along our journey from Lahore to Karachi by train. Locals in the train gave us a warm welcome and offered us food, tea, soft drinks, and other foodstuff. The moments became unforgettable for me,” she remarked.

Ms Tiwari, hailing from Bhopal, in Madhya Pradesh state, said that she did not know how the response of Indian people towards visiting Pakistanis in India was but she got a warm welcome, love and affection, which she could not scratch from her memory.

She was of the view that the peoples of the two countries – India and Pakistan – were not hostile to each other and they wanted to come nearer. “I think the visa restriction should be lifted so that peoples of the two countries could travel freely and share views and experiences,” she suggested, and added that the delegation had raised slogans all along the journey from Lahore to Karachi that the visa restriction be lifted and peoples of the two countries be provided a chance to come closer.

Another member of the delegation, Ms Varsha Belais, said that the role of media was important in highlighting the issues in their true perspective, besides apprising people of accurate information.

Ms Belais regretted that the media in both the countries had not been playing its due role in bringing the peoples of the two countries closer and helping them understand each others.

Various foreign delegations are participating in the WSF-2006. Azrin Zizal Bin Abdul Aziz represents a global peace organization known as ‘Malaysians for Peace’.

He goes to every person visiting the WSF venue and advocates his stance on peace. He says that “peace is the essential condition for the survival and well-being of the human race”.

He was of the view that the killings in war were as criminal act as killings within societies in peace times. Therefore, killings in wartimes must be subject to the international law of crime, he argued.