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15 Pakistani lawmakers for candlelight vigil on Indo-Pak border

Our Correspondent in New Delhi | August 12, 2003 19:46 IST
Last Updated: August 13, 2003 17:39 IST

Fifteen Pakistani lawmakers will participate in the 10th 'midnight peace festival' at the Wagah border on August 14-15.

According to the organiser, the Hind-Pak Dosti Manch, the Independence Day event will be infused with added vigour this year in view of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's fresh efforts to improve relations with Pakistan.

"We, candlelightwallahs, were condemned for the last 10 years but we were able to change the atmosphere. People who were ridiculing us have been proven wrong," Manch President Kuldip Nayar told rediff.com.

"We wanted to highlight the views of people in both countries who want peace. That has been our contention since decades and events of late have proven us right," the journalist and Rajya Sabha member said.

The list of Pakistani lawmakers includes Aitzaz Ahsan, Benazir Bhutto's home minister; Iqbal Haider; Pervez Malik (Pakistan Muslim League) and two Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal MPs among others.

On August 14 afternoon, Nayar will welcome the Pakistani delegation, which will stay in Amritsar. In the evening, they will attend a musical programme followed by a dinner hosted by the dean of the Guru Nanak University. At midnight, candles will be lit on the Indo-Pak border.

On August 15, the delegation will visit the Golden Temple where the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and each of its members will be presented a saropa (robe of honour). The delegation will also visit Jallianwala Bagh.

Justice Rajendra Sachar, a former judge of the Supreme Court; poet-writer Gulzar and actor-politician Raj Babbar will be among members of the Indian delegation.

Nayar said events of this kind are just a small beginning in the long process of improving relations between the two neighbours.

"Former Bihar chief minister Laloo Prasad Yadav's visit (to Pakistan) may have turned into a joke, but it will help create a conducive atmosphere," he said. "Both countries urgently need to relax visa rules. Till then, actual people to people contact cannot be established."

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