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Pak red carpet at Nitish home

- ENVOY PRAISE FOR BIHAR MODEL BEFORE CM VISIT

Patna, Oct. 25: Nitish Kumar’s seven-day visit to Pakistan next month would give a new dimension to ties between the neighbours, Islamabad’s high commissioner in New Delhi Salman Bashir said here today.

“So far, our interaction was confined to the representatives of the national governments. It is for the first time that a chief minister (Nitish) is going to interact with his counterparts in the Pakistani states. It will certainly add a new dimension to our relationship,” Bashir told reporters here.

The chief minister is scheduled to visit Pakistan for a week from November 9.

While confirming Nitish’s visit to Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, the Pakistani envoy joined the group of several visiting dignitaries, including cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, Microsoft chairman and philanthropist Bill Gates, then World Bank president Robert Zoellick and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, who have praised the “Bihar model” of development under Nitish’s stewardship.

“Bihar, very important of the Indian states, is very special to India-Pakistan ties. The Bihar chief minister’s visit to the Pakistani states will enable his counterparts there to learn about the model of development that he has adopted in the state,” Bashir said.

According to senior government officials here, the “Bihar model” that Bashir talked about and which was appreciated by a Pakistani parliamentary delegation that visited the state in August this year, comprises certain distinctive initiatives that Nitish has taken in the course of his seven-year reign.

For instance, the officials, said, Bihar was the first state to introduce 50 per cent reservation for women in the local bodies, paving the way for equal participation of women in governance, particularly at the grassroots-level.

This was followed by the right to service act, ensuring delivery of work within a stipulated time-frame, the special court act — a legal instrument enabling the state to confiscate the properties of high-ranking officials embroiled in cases of corruption — and introduction of several social schemes to uplift the living condition of the Mahadalits (under privileged sections). Besides, Bihar was one of the first states to introduce the right to information act.

These are the initiatives which Nitish’s officials invariably showcase before the visiting dignitaries and have now come to be termed the “Bihar model”.

“We are fascinated by Bihar’s socio-economic transformation. Bihar is writing success stories, inspiring others in India and abroad. I am quite impressed at the development model that Bihar officials showed me today,” Bashir said.

This was the Pakistani high commissioner’s first visit to Patna. “It is my first visit to the state and I am overwhelmed at the hospitality extended by the chief minister and the people,” said Bashir, who lunched with Nitish at his 1 Aney Marg residence.

Bashir, who has a masters degree in history, also dropped in at the Khuda Bakhsh library, Patna Museum and Buddha Smriti Park.