ISLAMABAD - Dialogue is the only course to improve India-Pakistan relations, and the two countries need to pursue the dialogue process with rigour in order to improve relations not only between the governments, but also between the people of the two countries.

This was stated by Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar, on Tuesday at the roundtable discussion organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies with the 12-member Indian delegation currently on a visit to Pakistan.

The Director General, Ambassador (Retd) Jehangir Ashraf Qazi extended Indian delegation a warm and hearty welcome. Ambassador Qazi in his welcome remarks, said that we are honoured to have such an outstanding personality at our institute.

He said that Nitish Kumar has done a fabulous job in Bihar as Chief Minister. He has brought a revolution in Bihar of which only few people can think of. He said that Bihar is fastest growing economic state in India today and this was made possible only due to excellent leadership qualities of Mr. Kumar. He said that Pakistan and its leadership has much to learn from Kumar and the methods of his governance of Bihar.

The chief minister of Bihar in his speech on ‘Growth Story of Bihar,’ said that he believes that state is a necessary precondition not only to ensure law and order but also to ensure development of the people.

He said that it is his humble belief that resurrection and building of the state is the ultimate necessity to provide justice to the people. He said that the story of Bihar is this story of the power of democracy and state building.

He said when he came to power in Bihar his first priority was good governance with a vision for ‘development with justice.’ He said he focused on three important aspects after winning the people mandates in Bihar. The first was law and order. Second was to improve the public infrastructure.

And the third was to empower the marginalised sections of the society. Chief Minister Kumar further said that overall financial, administrative and technological apparatus was also overhauled.

He said in merely four years, Bihar won the award for e-Governance. In addition, he said that the statistics of growth in Bihar merely reflect part of the story of Bihar’s development. Bihar has achieved the highest GSDP growth rates in the last few years and the per capita income of the state has increased four times despite recurrent natural disasters.

He said that Bihar today is now expanding and fast integrating with the national market and beyond. However, the most promising story of Bihar is that the growth is inclusive, and the weakest sections of society and social harmony are part of this growth. In the end, he said still there are plenty of challenges but Bihar is ready to face these challenges. He said that they have resurrected the capacity of the state to deliver growth and good governance. And believe that the social harmony and inclusiveness for which Bihar stands today plays a stronger role in developing an atmosphere of harmony in South Asia.

In response to the comments and questions from the people round the table, the chief minister said that it was change for the betterment. People in the first tenure do not have much expectations but it is in the second tenure that people feel that they should invest and now they have aspirations to do something for their state. He also said that it is of great benefit when there is clear cut policy and implementation at upper level.

On the question of Kashmir issue, Kumar said that we need to find solution of contentious issues between India and Pakistan through dialogue.

In response to a question whether good governance is important for democracy or not, the chief minister said that democracy and good governance are interlinked. Democracy with good governance leads to growth.

Regarding the question on environment protection, he said that protection of environment is very important and his government is paying great attention on this issue.

He also said that he has planned to build ‘Institute for Environment and Ecology’ at one of the Bihar’s university.

Concluding the meeting, the Director General ISSI, Ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi thanked the chief minister and his delegations for his enlightening speech and the other guests round the table.