LAHORE – Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said here on Saturday that India and Pakistan need to develop peaceful neighbourly relations while continuing efforts for the solution to all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, in order to achieve a durable peace in the subcontinent.

“It is high time both Pakistan and India gave up confrontation. The two countries would have made solid progress had mutual issues been resolved through dialogue.

The resources would have gone to the welfare and uplift of the masses instead of being wasted on wars,” Shahbaz said at a luncheon he hosted for Indian Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat.

Continuing his address, the CM said talks, not war was the solution to “our problems.” He said that during the tenure of Nawaz Sharif, Indian PM Atal Bahari Vajpai visited Lahore and declared at Minar-e-Pakistan that India had accepted Pakistan from “the core of heart.”

 He said had democratic process continued in Pakistan at the time, many irritants in the Indo-Pak relations would have been removed automatically and solid progress made towards solution of the Kashmir, water and other issues.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said that poverty, disease and ignorance are the common enemies of the people of India and Pakistan and collective efforts are needed to defeat them. He said that outstanding issues will have to be resolved through negotiations as there is no other option. He said that instead of indulging in arms race, people of India and Pakistan need to compete in education, science, art and other fields while resolving their outstanding problems in a peaceful manner.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said that destiny of the region can be changed only if Pakistani and Indian government concentrate on the prosperity of their respective people. Stressing the need of promoting mutual contacts at public level between the two countries,  Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said that realities must be accepted no matter how bitter they are.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said that the two countries have fought three wars and millions of lives have been lost but the basic issues are still there.

The Chief Minister stressed the need for replacing the existing oppressive system of social and economic inequalities with a system based on justice and fair play and said that economic and social exploitation will have to be done away with for changing the existing state of affairs. He said that revolutionary project of Daanish school system has been introduced for the children deprived of even basic education which will bring about a positive change in their lives.

Shahbaz Sharif told the Indian delegation that Pakistan was the first country in the subcontinent which, under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif, adopted liberal economic policies.

“His vision was followed by the then Indian finance minister Manmohan Singh.” He said that Pakistan is facing terrorism and cannot make progress without elimination of this menace. If European countries can live in peace and harmony after protracted wars and disputes, why India and Pakistan cannot move forward in a peaceful manner, he questioned. However, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said, it is essential that they should find a just solution to all their issues.

On this occasion, Speaker Indian Lok Sabha Meira Kumar appreciated the public welfare projects initiated by the Punjab Government. Besides members of Indian delegation, Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal, Senior Advisor Sardar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa, Provincial Minister Ch. Abdul Ghafoor, Members Assembly, columnist Ata-ul-Haq Qasmi were also present on the occasion.