Karachi: Making his first visit to Pakistan, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said he was captivated by the warmth of brotherhood and goodwill here as he shared his experiences in realising his quest for ensuring an all-round development in his state.
"Pakistan and India have common history and heritage. Our bilateral relations are witnessing an all-round progress. We take pride in shared history that goes back to time immemorial," Kumar said at a luncheon hosted by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah.
"I feel happy to be in Pakistan. I bring good wishes and greetings for people of Pakistan," said the Chief Minister, who arrived on a week-long visit to Pakistan.
He said he was "deeply touched" by the hospitality extended to him on his first visit to Pakistan. "I have been captivated by the warmth of brotherhood and goodwill."
Sharing his experiences, Kumar, who became Bihar's Chief Minister in 2005, said that "Seven years back we started our quest for establishing governance and ensuring an all round development," which was both "a challenge and an opportunity".
"With our resolve for growth with justice manifold achievements have been marked across sectors like governance, law and order, human resource development, infrastructure and agriculture," he said.
Kumar said there is strict control over organised crime resulting in overall dip in crime graph in the state.
"Improved law and order has paved the way for restoring the authority of the state. No communal riots or social discord has been witnessed in the last seven years. With communal amity and social harmony came development. Bihar achieved compound annual growth rate of 11 percent over a period of last 5 years and aims at 13 percent rate of growth for the 12th Plan. Growth rate for 2011-12 counts at 16.7 percent, which is highest in the country."
Kumar also spoke of the state government's focus on sectors like education, health, women empowerment, agriculture, road infrastructure and poverty alleviation. He said that atmosphere of peace and security has been ensured for minorities in Bihar during the last seven years. "The state has been absolutely free from communal riots."
Multifarious schemes and programmes have been launched for socio-economic development of minorities with special emphasis on their educational development, the Chief Minister said.
"Good governance is the mantra of our growth story," Kumar said, adding his state has a zero tolerance against corruption.
Earlier, Kumar visited mausoleum of Mohammad Ali Jinnah to pay homage to the founder of Pakistan. Accompanied by the Sindh Chief Minister, he laid floral wreaths at the mazar and the two leaders stressed the need for peace and brotherhood between the two countries.
"I believe that Pakistan and India need to work together and exist peacefully with each other. This will not only guarantee prosperity and development for both countries but also for the entire region," Kumar told reporters outside the mazar.
Kumar also visited Karachi's famous Mohata Palace, built in the tradition of stone palaces of Rajasthan. The visit to Mohata Palace "has reinforced my belief that the cultural links between our two nations are abiding which is central to our history. If we shared a common past, it is wise to share a common future regardless of geographical boundaries," he wrote in the visitors' book.
The Chief Minister will also be visiting Lahore and Islamabad during his Pakistan tour. Nitish Kumar also invited Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah to visit Bihar. Shah accepted the invitation and said that he will visit the state at a later date.
Visiting the mausoleum of Jinnah, Kumar said he had a long standing wish to visit the mausoleum and it has been fulfilled. "Sindh commands a very prominent place in the history of the subcontinent and the river Sindh that meets the River Ganga tell us off a very old civilisation that existed in this region," he said.
"I believe that since we share a lot of common values Pakistan and India need to co-exist peacefully and improve ties," Kumar said. "I think by increasing exchanges at the parliamentary level it will encourage the exchange of dialogue and when dialogue is persistent it will lead to more cooperation and improvement of ties between the two nations," he said.
The Bihar CM said he would support improvement of relations and more exchanges at the provincial level as well.
Earlier yesterday, Deputy Chief Minister of Indian Punjab Sukhbir Singh Badal, during his visit to Lahore had said that the "people of Lahore are more hospitable than what he had heard about them".
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