`Resolve differences to push ahead peace process`

Sharif expressed his delight at the new visa agreement signed by Pakistan and India.

Updated: Sep 09, 2012, 22:04 PM IST

Lahore: Peace process and cooperation between India and Pakistan will continue to suffer if the Kashmir issue, differences on sharing of river waters and the Sir Creek boundary dispute are not resolved, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Sunday.

During his meeting with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, Sharif said wars are a thing of the past and the two countries will have to compete with each other in healthy ways in fields like agriculture, tourism and commerce.

Sharif, a top leader of the PML-N party that rules Punjab, "made it clear that unless and until the Kashmir dispute and water and Sir Creek are not resolved, the peace process and other areas of cooperation will continue to suffer".

Noting that wars are a thing of the past, Sharif said: "I am looking forward to hosting a sports festival in Lahore in the coming months in which hockey, kabaddi and wrestling teams from India will also participate," according to a statement issued by Sharif`s office.
Sharif expressed his delight at the new visa agreement signed by Pakistan and India yesterday.

Krishna, who spent the final day of his three-day visit in Pakistan`s cultural capital of Lahore, made a special mention of the efforts by PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif in initiating the peace process with India in 1999 and inviting then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to come to Lahore by bus.

Krishna also met Punjab Governor Latif Khosa, who said both Pakistan and India are atomic powers and cannot afford war and hatred.

"Every fifth person in the world is either Indian or Pakistani. Terrorists have no religion and the peace process between the two countries should not be halted now," said Khosa, a senior leader of the Pakistan People`s Party.

Khosa suggested that lectures by Indian intellectuals and academicians could be arranged through video conferencing in 41 universities of Punjab province.

Earlier, on his arrival in Lahore following talks with the top leaders of the federal government, Krishna said: "Well, all this is going to help foster a much more cordial relationship between our two countries.

"It is my earnest desire and the desire of Dr Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India, and the people of India that we would like to see a stable, peaceful, progressive Pakistan as our neighbour because that will mean quite a bit to the entire region," he said.

He added: "We were able to make few decisions, we signed the visa liberalisation pact and a cultural pact all this is going to help foster a much more cordial relationship between the two countries."

Krishna, who described his visit as fruitful, visited the historical Minar-e-Pakistan, Gurdwara Dera Sahib that houses Ranjeet Singh`s `mari` (abode) and Data Darbar, the shrine of Hazrat Ali Hajveri, the patron saint of Lahore.

Fool-proof security arrangements were put in place at all these venues and thousands of policemen and security personnel were deployed across Lahore.

The Minar-e-Pakistan, built at the site where a resolution for the creation of Pakistan was passed in 1940, was cordoned off early this morning as the Punjab government did not want to take any chances with the security for the Indian delegation comprising over 80 people.

The Jamaat-ud-Dawah`s headquarters at Chauburji is located a short distance from these venues.

In his comments in the visitors` book at Minar-e- Pakistan, Krishna wrote: "I am happy to visit Pakistan. I wish the people of Pakistan peace and progress. India would like to see a stable and prosperous Pakistan.
"I believe that the two sovereign countries India and Pakistan can and need to live respectfully and in peace as good neighbours. Both the countries also need to work closely together to ensure a brighter future for their people.

"To this end, India remains committed to building a relationship of trust and mutually beneficial all-round cooperation with Pakistan," he said.
The Minar-e-Pakistan was also the venue where then premier Nawaz Sharif and Vajpayee had signed the Lahore Declaration in 1999.

Krishna said he liked the city of Lahore as it had a long history. During his interactions with the leaders in Punjab, he said India and Pakistan had developed better ties in the era of democracy.

Issues between the two countries could not be resolved through one or two meetings and the dialogue process should continue, he said.