Aijaz Haroon, Managing Director, Pakistan International Airlines:
"If there is lasting peace between Pakistan and India and visas are easily issued to the citizens of both countries, PIA could run six daily flights to Mumbai from Karachi alone. Making air travel easy between the two counties will also greatly help the airline industry. I envisage a 70 to 80 per cent instant growth, if visa-related issues get resolved.
"We have 1.5 million Gujrati-speaking people living in Karachi. Almost all of them have family members living right across the border. The two airlines won't even have to worry about empty seats if that happens. Just in the month of Muharram, PIA arranged four extra 747 flights for members of Bohra community who went to India to see their spiritual leader.
"We have already seen thousands of Sikh pilgrims coming to Pakistan every year. Many more cannot come because of difficulties in obtaining visas.
"Then there is the Lollywood and Bollywood connection. A lot of Lahoris are crazy about the Indian film industry. There is no dearth of Pakistanis wanting to travel to Mumbai because of Bollywood. Cheap entertainment venues in India like Goa could attract thousands of tourists from Pakistan."
Yahya Polani, Chairman, Travel Agents Association of Pakistan, South Zone:
"Even ten daily flights between India and Pakistan won't be enough to meet the demand if tensions subside between the two nations. My experience in the tourism industry tells me that people of South Asia region really want to travel to each other's' countries. They try to find similarities with each other. After all, our roots are not much difference than those living in India or Bangladesh.
"It is very difficult to travel across the border right now. Indian and Pakistani embassies discourage citizens from traveling. They should get over their past. They suspect each other of spreading terrorism -- although it is internal terrorism that is causing the damage in India and Pakistan.
"Look at Sri Lanka. The country fought war for 28 years with separatists but it did not let that affect its tourism industry and gives visas on arrival. That is what we in Pakistan and India need to do.
"Pakistan has so much to offer to Indian tourists, from Karachi to Khyber. All we need is provision of facilities."
Salahuddin Berchu, tour operator and Manager Tours, Travel Walji's, Islamabad:
"If the governments implement the accord they had agreed upon some years ago, to allow tourist visas for groups of 12 and above, we would get up to 5,000 Indian tourists a month. The approved groups would stay in 4 or 5 star hotels, spending around USD 2000 per person, minus airfares and shopping. This could generate about half a billion dollars a year for Pakistan.
"Even keeping in view security concerns and keeping sensitive areas out of bounds for such tourist groups, there is still plenty for Indian tourists to see in Pakistan and for Pakistani tourists to see in India."
...more choices in the sort of medical care people want...
Dr Samrina Hashmi, former general secretary of Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Karachi:
"We could each share what we have and help the other in what it lacks in terms of medical research, training and technology - that would be very important in terms of making our mark in the region.
"Without visa restrictions, a common Pakistani would have a broad choice to opt from regarding the sort of medical care they want. There is a dearth of cardiac surgeons in Pakistan, and they are often beyond the reach of a common man.
"One look at the long line of patients sleeping outside hospitals shows the urgent relief needed for the people of Pakistan in terms of health care. And what better way it could be achieved then corroborating with India with whom we share same language, physiology and a way of living."
Dr Nighat Shah, consultant gynaecologist at Aga Khan University Hospital Kharadar, member of Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Pakistan:
"Exchange of any kind gives us a chance to learn from each other. Visiting each other's countries will help us develop trust for each other through which we can form our own Asian Union, including other countries in South Asia.
"Many of Pakistan and India's medical problems are similar, including in areas like congenital diseases and fertility issues. We could better deal with them if we join forces. Rather than going abroad and returning with hypotheses that cannot be applied to our society, we would be able to conduct research in the region.
"Moreover, the price of many medicines is relatively cheaper in India than Pakistan.
"There is so much goodwill to draw upon, like the recent case of a Pakistani doctor who went to India to deliver a lecture. During the seminar, he suffered a heart attack. The hosts took care of him, and did not charge a penny."
Dr Munir Amanullah, Paediatric Cardiac surgeon at Aga Khan University Hospital Karachi:
"Lifting visa restrictions would mean doom for Pakistan as we will lose a lot of revenue to India. The option of going to India is tempting only because their media has glorified the healthcare system there, whereas our media is hell bent on demonising doctors. If on top of it you allow an open border with India, it would be our loss on all fronts, as most people will opt for something better.
"It is not that Pakistan has a dearth of cardiac surgeons, it is just that they are not being publicised. We need to very sincerely focus on our country and look for ways that makes us depend on ourselves. Ten years ago India was in the same boat as we are but with continuous efforts, they have emerged as one of the leading centres of the region for congenital cardiac surgery. We are not far behind and with support by our people, media and hopefully one day by the government we would be able to match any country's results."
Given our common medical problems,
collaboration would benefit the people
Mehmood Arshad, business student:
"There would be more opportunities for economic growth for people of both countries if there were no visa restrictions, and people were allowed to cross the borders freely.
"Pakistan and India both have some unique competitive advantages over each other which can be used to change the lives of millions of poor people on both sides. If we compare South Asia with East Asian countries we see that our zone continues to be a low-income region while the East Asian region, which was not so developed half a century ago, now ranks among the world's progressive and developed regions.
"Also take the example of European Union - their countries had enmities going back centuries but when they realised that their hatred will eat up their potential, they removed visa restrictions, allowed people to move freely and became friends.
"If India and Pakistan bury their differences to resolve their issues which are the main obstacles in the way of peace, there is no limit to what both nations can accomplish together."
Syed Asim Ali, Faculty Member of Department of Computer Science, University of Karachi:
"If we (India and Pakistan) communicate and coordinate in IT industry and education, it will bring a world of good to both the countries. With Bangalore already established as the Asian Silicon Valley, Pakistan could gain immensely in terms of technical capabilities and skills. India could also benefit by gaining access to the best human resources in Pakistan, as it (India) sometimes has to refuse projects because of non-availability of skilled workforce."
NOTE: Credit for the title of this page goes to Chowk.com, the online forum for Pakistanis and Indians ('unflinching idealism since 1997') started by a Pakistani-Indian couple living in the USA. 'Imagine: Neighbours in Peace' was the title of a book of essays published by Chowk.
Amin Hashwani, Pakistan-India CEOs Business Forum:
"The South Asian region can historically been considered a mini-super power. These empires that compromised India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have held and utilised much economic potential in times when they operated as more unified entities. Contemporary wars and tensions in the region have hindered prosperity and growth.
"For example, Pakistan constituted a model economy in the 1960s to the extent that experts from Korea and Japan came to us to study and replicate our success. The war of 1965 however proved to be an immense burden on our resources. We were fighting a much larger and powerful foe and ended up diverting critical resources from our economic foundations to the war effort in the hopes of maintaining a military equilibrium with India.
"The wars and heightened levels of military tension in the periods between them ensured a steady decline as we were compelled to divert a disproportionate amount of resources from vital sectors such as health and education. To reverse this trend would require a serious cutdown in military-related spending, which in turn would require a comprehensive and lasting peace with Pakistan's large neighbour.
"Presently, the world is witnessing the rise of Asia, particularly countries like China and India. Peace and economic cooperation between India and Pakistan would help Pakistan make full use of this Asian economic boom. Not only would peace between India and Pakistan result in both countries finally investing resources to address critical domestic issues adversely effecting both countries such a widespread poverty and lack of education, it would result in economic cooperation which will be its own reward. Such an atmosphere of peace, stability and cooperation will also encourage many other countries to invest in the subcontinent without the constant fear of war and instability.
"These would be requisites to propel the subcontinent towards achieving sustainable, long term growth and robust economies that would help lift the quality of life for countless people in our poverty ridden countries.
"Other than strictly economic cooperation, collaboration on a number of increasingly important issues like climate change, water shortage, population control, child mortality, women, healthcare, poverty and disease would be immensely beneficial. Pakistan and India confront many of the same challenges due to their geographical proximity and demographic similarities. Pooling resources and expertise to address them would be the obvious and logical course to pursue in our increasingly challenging world."
Shahid Shafaat, Founder Katha Theater Group:
"Art in Pakistan would really progress if these restrictions were lifted. That would also contribute towards developing a more healthy society in both Pakistan and India.
"Without these restrictions, we would be able to do more collaborative theatre or exchange programs in which artists from both countries can arrange workshops with each other. All this will improve mutual ties and help in growth of the industry."
Taal Karisma, percussion rock band:
"If there were no visa restrictions, the Pakistani music industry would be much bigger as Indian movie industry relies heavily on songs by Pakistani singers such as Atif Aslam and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, despite the prevalence of not so amicable ties between the two countries."
Alan Simon, tabla player: "It would be like a dream come true. We only got our passports back with the Indian visa only hours before our flight to India where we were playing music for the play Shakuntala. If there were no such restrictions on visas we could have spent more time in India and attended the performing arts festival at the National School of Drama, Dehli.
"Music is universal. It has no boundaries. It has been my dream to play a small tabla piece with the legendary Ustad Zakir Hussain. If there were no restriction on the duration of visa, I would have definitely tried to fulfill my dream."
Ahsan Bari, vocalist: "If there were no restrictions I would spend most of my time there. I would love to do a couple of tracks with Shankar Mahadevan and create some instrumental fusion music."
Maheen Zia, documentary filmmaker, teacher, and member Executive committee Kara Film Festival:
"Given the similar faces, similar language, similar culture and similar people on both sides of the border, without visa restrictions both Pakistan and India would become the largest markets for each other.
"Without these visa restrictions, I would be working on a feature film right now which could be shown to a bigger audience. I would have better competition and the film could be shown in several cinemas.
"When my students wanted to go to Iran, the language barrier created restrictions. Going to USA or anywhere in Europe is very expensive. The best option for educational exchanges is with India."
Nahid Raza, artist:
"I have only managed to go to India twice, for artists' workshops. It was a fantastic experience both times. Unfortunately we lost touch with each other as at that time there was no email and it was difficult to maintain contact. If there were no visa restrictions, artists would be able to collaborate much better, drawing upon our shared legacies and experiences, and share new techniques and thoughts."
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
LAHORE: I could not afford heart surgery for my ten-month daughter, who has a hole in her heart, but a peace initiative between Pakistan and Indi .....more
"Relationships change minds and not knowledge". Aun, an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, began his story with this quote from th .....more
KARACHI: A major breakthrough in trade relations between Pakistan and India is strongly expected next February, while strengthening of such ties is .....more
Page 89 of 178
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