Mumbai: Appealing the governments of India and Pakistan to slash their respective defence spending, a media conclave here called for channelling the funds for socio-economic development in both the countries.
"We have talked enough about building peaceful relationships between the countries, now let us concentrate on the real issues affecting the people of both the countries", observed speakers at a media conclave held in Navi Mumbai at the fag-end of the Mumbai visit of a 14-member media delegation from Pakistan.
"Increasing tension between India and Pakistan, piling up of arms worth billions of dollars helps only arms merchants from the US and other countries and is not at all in the interests of poverty-stricken India and Pakistan," said Tahir Hasan Khan, president of the Karachi Press Club which is leading the media delegation of scribes from Karachi and Sindh.
"We (the Pak delegates) have seen homeless people sleeping on the pavements of Mumbai and it is the similar situation in Karachi and other cities there," he said, adding that the governments of both the countries should spend more on poverty alleviation and creating jobs rather than "mindless spending" on purchase of arms that helps only the western powers "at the cost of our own people".
Journalists from Mumbai threw pointed questions at the Pakistan media on their opinion and role over the US using Pakistan as its base and strengthening arms buildup in the region.
"It is not just Pakistan, the US has been successfully fooling even India to suit the western super power`s arms manufacturers," said Karamat Ali, Executive Director of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER).
PILER, along with Karachi Press Club, hosted the Indian media delegation`s trip to Pakistan in November and also the current visit by the scribes from the neighbouring country.
"Let us leave the knotty issues of Kashmir and Siachen
to be tackled at the government levels. As people we must together concentrate in handling common problems of Roti, Kapda and Makaan (food, clothing and shelter)," Ali said drawing a loud applause.
Navi Mumbai Mayor Sagar Naik, who was the chief guest at the conclave hosted by Valuable Group, said he was pained to learn that both India and Pakistan were busy building up massive defences. "We are erecting high walls of defence while our homes are becoming hollow," he observed.
Indo-Pak peace activist Jatin Desai said it was high time that media from both the countries addressed the real issues affecting the neighbours.
Since their arrival in Mumbai last week, the Pakistan media delegation has had a hectic schedule in Mumbai meeting Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Home Minister R R Patil, Public Works Minister Chagan Bhujbal, besides participating in seminars, discussions hosted by the Press Club, Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh and Vidhi Mandal Patrakar Sangh. They visited Mumbai`s landmarks like the BSE, Gateway of India and had a chat with actor Aamir Khan.
The discussions were basically focused on increased media cooperation to build lasting peace in the region and improved trade relations which will help create jobs in both the countries.
The Press Clubs of Mumbai and Karachi have agreed to set up an Information Exchange on their web sites.