The South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) organised a seminar titled ‘Pakistan in a South Asian Context’ in connection with Independence Day at a local hotel on Friday.
Experts from India and Pakistan spoke on the occasion and expressed their views on how Pakistan could progress. Noted historian Dr Mubarik Ali said that people would first have to decide if they wanted a democratic and secular Pakistan or an extremist Pakistan. He said that so far Pakistan’s policies had been based on religion and anti-India sentiments. He said that if people wanted a democratic Pakistan, they would have to think logically.
SAFMA Secretary General Imtaiz Alam said that policymakers in Pakistan “shouldn’t make Afghanistan the fifth province of Pakistan”. He urged India not to get involved in Afghanistan too much. He said, “What have we gained by getting involved with Afghanistan? What is India looking forward to?”
He said that the border between Pakistan and India should be opened, adding that right now, when Pakistan is facing devastating floods, India could provide the country with vegetables and other food items.
Key: SAFMA India President Vinod Sharma said that mindsets automatically change when the two countries have mutual economic interests. He said that we might not have any legendary philosophers to help change our mindsets, but we don’t need any since open trade is enough. Sharma lamented that 60 years, Pakistan and India had each been waiting for the other to initiate peace talks. He regretted that ultra-nationalists in both the countries had not allowed such talks to take place.
Imtiaz Alam said that a vigil, which was to be held on the Pak-Indo border on the night between August 14 and August 15, had been cancelled, as permission for it had not been granted. He said that the vigil would now be held at SAFMA.