PATNA: North Indian state Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who returned from a week-long visit to Pakistan on Saturday said he found strong desire for people-to-people contact there which could be bolstered by frequent exchanges.
“There should be frequent exchanges of goodwill visits by political leaders, intelligentsia and mediapersons of the two countries to foster strong bilateral relations,” he told reporters at Jai Prakash Narayan International Airport here.
There should also be increased frequency of the exchange of cultural delegations between India and Pakistan as part of the people-to-people contact.
The chief minister said he was humbled by the warmth, affection and respect showered on him and on members of his delegation in Pakistan.
“Never for a minute during my stay in Pakistan did I feel that I was away from my country.”
The dinner hosted by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari was “heart warming” and the visit was a “significant achievement” in his political journey.
“It was a memorable experience for me,” Nitish Kumar said, adding that he won’t be able to forget the love, affection and respect he received in Pakistan during his visit.
The chief minister said he urged India and Pakistan to put up a joint fight against poverty and hunger in his address at the Government College University in Lahore.
He said he was impressed by Pakistan’s effort to maintain the ancient ruins of Indus Valley Civilization and the Taxila university.
Kumar, who returned on Friday to New Delhi from his maiden visit to Pakistan, said he observed a strong desire among the Pakistani people for good relations with those in India during interactions with the people and political leaders there.
He said the people in Pakistan were interested to know in detail about the mantra of governance and development agenda, particularly in areas of education, poverty alleviation, health, polio eradication and empowerment in Bihar.
He said he too had imbibed some important aspects of development works in Pakistan that could be put to use for improvement of the life of the people in the state.
Nitish also praised Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, saying his recent visit to Pakistan would help improve relations between India and Pakistan and open new avenues for trade.
Pakistan has launched an investigation to trace a distant woman relative of Badal, who has been missing in Lahore for the past two-and-half months.
Rajvindar Kaur Gill, a Canadian citizen of Indian origin, went missing shortly after she arrived in Lahore last August to attend a conference.
Her father, Sikandar Singh, wrote a letter to Badal, seeking the Deputy Chief Minister’s help in finding his daughter.
Badal handed over a copy of the letter to Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif during his visit to Lahore earlier this month.
“Dear brother, since I know you have strong relations with the Pakistan Punjab Chief Minister, we are optimistic that she will be brought to home safely,” Singh wrote in the letter.
Singh further wrote that he had served in the Indian Air Force before moving to Canada 13 years ago.
Other members of his family, including Rajvindar, who is in her 30s, joined him in 2007.
“My daughter then moved to Switzerland after she got a job in a bank in Zurich. She went to Lahore to attend a conference in August 2012 and remained in touch with me for a few days.”
“She also went to Gurdwara Janamasthan, Nankana Sahib. She told me that she was going to meet a journalist, Iqbal Hussain of News One, before we lost contact with her,” Singh wrote.
Imdad Bhatti, a journalist of the Urdu daily Jang, said that Singh had spoken to him by phone from Canada.
He quoted Singh as saying that his daughter had fallen in love with a man on the Internet who had introduced himself as Krishna from Lahore.
Bhatti said Singh had told him that his daughter went to Lahore to meet Krishna.
It was not clear whether Krishna “was an imposter or not.”