New Delhi, Aug. 22: A team of parliamentarians from Pakistan will visit the Bihar capital later this week, years after a Pakistani delegation was in the Bihar capital with a message of then president Pervez Musharraf to Lalu Prasad.
This time, the invite is from Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Sources in the government said the visit was likely to help Nitish consolidate his secular credentials. The Pakistanis have also been curious to meet the man who replaced the RJD chief as chief minister. Lalu, on a visit to Pakistan in 2003, had won a huge fan following with his rustic humour.
The sources fear that the Pakistani delegation might have a rough sojourn in India with right wing outfits likely to protest their visit given the recent Indian home ministry’s allegations that some Pakistani elements were behind morphing Internet contents that triggered an exodus of northeastern people from some of the Indian cities.
The 13-member delegation is on a four-day visit to India as part of India-Pakistan parliamentarian exchange. The team is being led by ruling Pakistan People’s Party secretary-general Jahangir Badar and deputy chairman in the Senate Sabir Ali Baloch.
This would be the fourth round of the India-Pakistan parliamentarians’ dialogue aimed at fostering a better appreciation of each others’ parliamentary practices.
An official of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi said the delegation would comprise MPs from all four provinces of Pakistan and its various political parties. “The idea is to foster greater interaction between the two sides and have a better understanding about each other,” the official added.
The deputy Speaker of Pakistan National Assembly, Faisal Karim Khundi, is also part of the delegation. The team will focus on issues of development, trade and people-to-people ties. The last round of dialogue between parliamentarians from India and Pakistan was held in Islamabad in January this year. The Indian MPs who had attended the event included Mani Shankar Aiyar, D. Raja Shatrughan Sinha and Supriya Sule.
Other members of the delegation are Ms Saeeda Iqbal, Mushahid Hussain Syed, Haji Muhammad Adeel, deputy Speaker of National Assembly Faisal Karim Khundi, Mian Abdus Sattar, Nadeem Afzal Gondal, Nafisa Shah, Shazia Marri, Remesh Lal, Syed Ghulam Mustafa Shah, Mir Amer Ali Khan Magsi, Anusha Rehman Khan and engineer Khurram Dastagir Khan.
A high-power traders’ delegation is also coming with the parliamentarians. The delegation crossed the Wagah border this afternoon. They will be in Patna tentatively on August 24.
Sources said the MPs were keen to meet Nitish, about whom they have heard about and read a lot, particularly the development work that his government has carried out and his successful experiment at leading a “secular government with the BJP’s support”.
A Pakistani delegation had visited Patna after Lalu’s tour of Pakistan in 2003. The delegation carried an autographed photograph of then Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf, which the general had sent to Lalu with a hand-written caption — “To Shri Lalu Prasad, an artist of a politician”.