Ladies and gentlemen, a warm welcome to the Aman Ki Asha business summit. Especially to our guests from across the border who have braved uncertainties over visas to the very last moment to be here.
On Jan first this year, civil societies of India and Pakistan represented by the leading media groups of two countries. The Jang group and the Times of India joined hands to start the unique movement. Many call it audacious, even fool hardy, but today five months on the movement has acquired shape and its goals don't look that impossible to achieve.
As the name suggest, Aman Ki Asha is a movement for peace, it has dared to look beyond the conventional wisdom on both sides of the 60 year old political boundary. It has sought to understand the ancient bonds that tie together the people of our two great nations and aims to forge new ones that would realize our shared dream of peace and prosperity in the region, if not for us, certainly for our children.
The movement does not ignore in any way or trivialize the very grave areas of difference that exist between the two neighbors, it just recognizes that we can't remain hostage to those differences forever. It seeks to take the relationship beyond the -- of politics and -- if violence.
Recent interaction between the prime ministers of the two nations and the impending visits between the home and foreign ministers of India and Pakistan hold up hope. Aman Ki Asha has three main plants: culture, conflict resolution and commerce. We started our movement with cultural exchange, perhaps it was easier to start such an ambitious campaign with an area which has already brought so much joy and pleasure to the people of both our countries. But even so we were absolutely overwhelmed by the response when top artists from the two countries shared a common stage. It was not just appreciation but an out pouring of popular emotion. Over the first quarter of this year we held music festivals over various Indian cities, bringing to the people the experience of the best from Pakistan and India. This was followed by a food festival, again spanning several Indian cities.
Over the last month the dialogue has broadened to cover the main areas of conflict between the two nations through an editor's meeting in Karachi and a strategic meeting in Lahore. Both summits were attended by some of the best minds of both countries to discuss mutual problems and possibilities with rare frankness. Over the past few weeks, Jang and the Times of India have taken the main ideas thrown up at these two meetings to our readers. We believe it is vital to engage civil society in our movement because we draw our hope from the good will among the ordinary people for each other. In fact, we wish to involve them in drawing up a possible peace map. Peace, after all, is too important an issue to be left entirely to governments.
Today we embark upon what I believe is the most important stage of this project and the only guarantee of peace commerce. The lessons of history are clear, to make peace happen we need to put the money where the mouth is, or should I say where the Olive branch is. History has repeatedly shown that peace is a prerequisite for prosperity. It is only when two hostile countries develop an economic stake in each other does peace become imperative and war a non-option. Look at China's or Japan's relationship with the U.S, the forces of commerce and economics have compelled thee former foes to change their posture towards each other, paving the way for ever increasing people to people interaction and a more peaceful relationship. There have been occasions in the past where Washington has been keen on imposing sanctions against China for its human rights violations but American business has lobbied hard to prevent this from happening. Whether this was a good or bad thing from a human rights perspective is a separate issue.
The point I am seeking to make is that a time comes when business ties between two countries become so strong that they act as a check against governments initiating hostile actions. For India and Pakistan to have lasting peace we too must build ourselves a solid back drop of commerce. Aman Ki Asha business summit is a bold attempt at kick starting a dialogue between the business communities of the two countries. The various sessions planned over the next few days will show that huge untapped potential for economic cooperation between our respective industries. Realizing this potential may sometimes involve changes in the policy framework. Wherever there is a case for change, this meet should identify them and put pressure on the governments and see it carried out. However in many cases a lot of progress can be made even within a tight policy regime. All that is required is some minor tweaking of rules and regulations that act as barriers and hindrances to trade. Here again this summit should pinpoint the most troublesome democratic hurdles and compel the governments to address them.
In short, ladies and gentlemen it is up to all of us to cease the moment. In next two days are crucial, I do hope we will all look back at them as a start of a new chapter in the history of our two great nations. I wish you to the very best for this noble project, thank you.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
By Mehtab Haider
ISLAMABAD: Planning Commission's top panel of economists, led by Adviser to the .....more
Page 161 of 175
The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners more editions
We probably didn't need to do this Special Report. Newspaper stories don't matter when it comes to Indians in Pakistani jails and vice versa. In fact, 'vice versa' sums it up. We do to them what they do to us.
Except when the two countries decide to begin talking, yet again! This time a little before the foreign secretary level talks, some Pakistani prisoners were released by India (and vice versa must have happened) and some more were release....read more
For the past 2 years the Jang Group and Geo have been working on a project of great national interest; one that we hope will help usher in an era of peace and prosperity in the country and indeed, in the region. And one that hopefully all Pakistanis can be proud of. more
The Jang Group has entered into an agreement with the Times of India Group, the largest media group of India, to campaign for peace betw