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Subhash Pathak , Hindustan Times
Patna, December 13, 2012
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has strongly come out in favour of easing travel norms between India and Pakistan "to give a boost to the ongoing peace process" between the two nations. Citing his talks with former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif during his visit to that country in November, Kumar underscored the need for pushing ahead with the peace initiative between the neighbours.

In this context, the Bihar chief minister recalled how the Kargil aggression had stalled the peace initiative, which had been "taken to a new dimension" by then prime minister Atal Behari Vajpee and his Pakistan counterpart before Kargil happened (in 1999).

Kumar, who was recounting his experiences during the Pakistan trip at a Bihar legislative council gathering, said the popular feeling in the neighbouring country was Pakistan had been as much a victim of terrorism as was India.

"Forces are out on both sides of the border to throw a spanner in the process of resolution of basic and contentious issues. They are beyond the control of the governments. However, given the scenario, no can say for sure whether the new initiatives will deliver the goods," the chief minister said.

Describing it as a 'satisfying' visit, Kumar said like shared history and heritage, both countries faced similar kind of challenges in poverty and healthcare.

"They (the people of Pakistan) also want to tide over these problems. They were quite interested in knowing the mechanism of governance and how polio was eradicated in Bihar," he said.

Kumar said the people of Pakistan were keen to use goods made in India. "They still have deep bonds with India in general and Bihar in particular. Some of the senior most political leaders had family connections with Bihar," he noted.