Pakistani students hosted at High Commission in New Delhi

High Commission for Pakistan (Information Wing) New Delhi *** No.36/PR-2018 July 04, 2018 PRESS RELEASE Pakistani students hosted at High Commission in New Delhi A group of 71 Pakistani students, visiting India recently on the invitation of the Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth (SPIC MACAY) and Creative Director and Film-maker Harsh Narayan, were received by High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood and other senior diplomats at the Pakistan High Commission, New Delhi. Students from three reputable art institutions in Pakistan — namely the National College of Arts (NCA), Lahore; Centre of Excellence in Art & Design, Jamshoro, Sindh; and Lok Virsa, Islamabad — were invited to India for participation in the 6th International Convention, organized by SPIC MACAY at IIT, Kharagpur, held from 3-9 June 2018. Mr. Harsh Narayan, also head of SAFACH (South Asia Forum for Art and Creative Heritage), collaborated closely with SPIC MACAY to put the visit together. During its stay in India, the group from Pakistan — including male and female students, teachers, and young professionals in diverse genres of the arts — also visited Calcutta, Agra and New Delhi. In the interactive session preceding the luncheon hosted for the group by the Pakistan High Commission, the students shared their experiences. The participants appreciated the warmth and hospitality they were accorded by the host organizations and people in general during their stay. They felt that this travel and first-hand experience had served to enhance their knowledge and understanding of India as a society and as a neighboring country. Extending a warm welcome to the students and main organizers of the trip, High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood dilated on various aspects of Pakistan-India relations. The High Commissioner underlined the commitment of the leadership in Pakistan to have peaceful, cooperative and good-neighbourly relations with India on the basis of mutual respect and sovereign equality. He stressed, in this regard, the importance of sustained engagement, structured dialogue, and steps for peacefully resolving long-outstanding disputes. Recognizing that the bilateral relationship had been affected by historical factors, political differences and lack of mutual trust, High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood said it was incumbent on both sides to work to ensure that the future was different from the past. The High Commissioner particularly underlined the role that the youth in India and Pakistan could play in demolishing stereo-types, removing misperceptions, and fostering better mutual understanding. He commended the youth to play its rightful part in building a hopeful future. High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood further stressed that mutual contacts at multiple platforms and regular people-to-people exchanges were pivotal for realizing the aspirations for peaceful and cooperative ties. In this regard, he mentioned that the Pakistan side had been supporting the participation of scholars, academics, artists, sportsmen and members of civil society from India in relevant events in Pakistan. The High Commissioner also underlined that the media could play a constructive role in reducing tensions, improving the environment, and enhancing the space for diplomacy and dialogue. “South Asia has huge potential, while its people are endowed with a great enterprising spirit,” the High Commissioner said. “Our region, which has sadly lagged behind others in terms of socio-economic development, could prosper and grow together in an environment of mutual respect, peaceful co-existence and purposeful cooperation for shared progress and prosperity,” he concluded. The participants in the event agreed that regular interaction at the level of civil society and communication and dialogue at the governmental level presented the most promising way forward.