Pakistan's main opposition leader Nawaz Sharif has called for unilaterally abolishing the visa regime with India even if New Delhi "hesitates to reciprocate" the move.
During an interaction with an Indian delegation at his Lahore residence Sunday, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif urged the Yousuf Raza Gilani government to step forward and take the initiative to abolish the visa regime so as to facilitate people-to-people contact that could accelerate the peace process, News International reported Monday.
Nawaz Sharif, who heads the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, stressed on ending hostilities between the two neighbours.
"Pakistan should move ahead with the decision of abolishing the visa regime unilaterally even if India hesitates to reciprocate the initiative at this point in time. I believe India will be forced to follow suit once Pakistan breaks this barrier. In my opinion, this step can go miles in bringing these two nuclear powers closer," he was quoted as saying.
He said that peace initiatives would lead to great prospects for mutual prosperity, and asked the government to open up the trade policy as well as relax the rules wherever possible.
Stressing that it was high time for seeking a resolution of all bilateral issues, he said: "We have assured the government of (our) complete support in this regard. However, it seems, the government is not doing enough."
Nawaz Sharif highlighted the significance of peace in the region and called for a hands-on approach for settling all outstanding disputes.
"I was and am keen to normalise relations between the two countries. I had taken bold steps during our 1997-99 tenure despite severe opposition from various quarters. We didn't have the privilege of getting support from within the political community either," he said.
The India delegates included President of Confederation of Indian Industry Adi Godrej, Chairman Bajaj Auto Limited Rahul Bajaj, Chairman Hero Corporate Service Limited Sunil Munjal, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Bharati Enterprises Limited Rakesh Mittal, Director General Confederation of Indian Industry Chandrajit Banerjee, Vice President Confederation of Indian Industry Ajay Shriram, Chairman Shell India Vikram Singh Mehta, and former chairman NASSCOM Harsh Manglik.