ISLAMABAD: On his 42nd visit to Pakistan in 12 years, Indian activist Chanchal Manohar Singh called upon ordinary citizens from both India and Pakistan not to pay heed to propaganda that stops them from coming closer.
Speaking at the National Press Club (NPC) on Wednesday, he said terrorism, extremism, the Taliban and so on were issues concerning the state, while ordinary citizens of both countries are busy trying to improve their standard of living.
“We have a lot to achieve – there are around 480 million people below the poverty line in India, that is more than the total population of the remaining seven countries of South Asia,” he said.
He said that at the same time, the per acre wheat yield in Indian Punjab was between 64 and 74 maund, while it was a maximum of 44 maund in Pakistani Punjab.
“This clearly shows that we have good seeds and improved know-how, while the farmers in Pakistan were following the traditional modes of farming,” he said, adding that “this is one of the areas where we both can cooperate for the benefit of all, to end hunger in the region and improve the earnings of farmers.”
He said the lack of advancement and speedy growth in the region was due to absence of cordial relations between the two main countries of South Asia – India and Pakistan.
“As long as these two countries do not agree on an agenda there cannot be any unified direction in South Asia over that subject,” Mr Singh said. “After we get past these petty issues, this region can produce world level leaders as it has in the past.”
He said exchange programmes between two countries were yielding results, and referred to a recent visit by 12 Pakistani journalists to Chandighar University.
“Around 1,200 students came to listen to such a small group and there was no hooting, or negative remarks but genuine queries and quest for knowledge,” he said. Mr Singh also criticised the media on both sides for imparting incorrect information and sensationalising negative activities.