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Arjun for border of love with Pak
Inaugurates World Punjabi Conference
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 1
Union Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh today said both India and Pakistan’s future lay in drawing borders of love for each other, which, he said, was the only way for progress of both countries.

The minister, who was here to inaugurate the World Punjabi Conference on the Punjabi University Campus welcomed the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh’s move to bring people’s of both Pakistan and Indian Punjab on a common platform. He said Punjabi University had also made it clear that it was committed to this cause by way of promoting Punjabiat. He promised Central help for the proposed World Punjabi Centre.

He lauded Punjabis for forgetting history while talking about the turbulent times in the state, adding that they were responsible for new standards in history. “Aaj Punjabiat insaniyat ka behtar namuna hai,” he said.

Mr Arjun Singh, who reached city this afternoon, first visited the New Moti Bagh Palace residence of the Chief Minister. Lunch at the palace apparently made him drowsy. He fell asleep nearly in mid-conversation with Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai with even a folder in his hand slipping away from his hand. A little later he again had a nap of more than 10 minutes when, Dr Shahzad Qaiser, the Director-General of the Punjab Institute of Language, Art and Culture, Lahore, was delivering his address.

The Chief Minister, on his part, was in a hurry to leave the venue. He requested the organisers to allow him to deliver his speech before the Union Minister so that he could set off for Amritsar where he is set to welcome Pakistan Punjab Chief Minister Parveiz Elahi tomorrow morning at the Wagah border post. Capt Amarinder Singh, during his speech, stressed that the state government would not let Punjabi lag behind others in any way. He said there had been shortcomings on this front from time to time but his government was committed to making good the loss.

Capt Amarinder Singh advised delegates at the conference to keep in mind the need to balance the development of Punjabi along with using English as a medium, which would ensure a global playing field to students. “China has hired 2.5 lakh English teachers from abroad so that they can teach English at the primary level,” he said, adding that “we must also keep pace with the changing times”.

In a candid manner, the Chief Minister said it was his dream to see the opening of the artificial borders between both countries. Speaking about his Pakistan visit 10 months ago, he said he wanted an atmosphere where people could come to Amritsar to have lunch and Amritsaris could go to Lahore for dinner.

The State Planning Board Vice-Chairman, Prof S.S. Johal, while speaking on the occasion, suggested that the proposed World Punjabi Centre being established on the Punjabi University campus should be made into an Institute of Indo-Pak Studies. Professor Johal said this was necessary to allow scholars from both sides of the border to conduct detailed research of their choice.

Noted Pakistan Punjab writer Fakhar Zaman, who initiated the World Punjabi Conference movement in 1986, called for easing visa restrictions immediately. He said a permit system should be introduced and that if this was not possible something on the lines of the Shenigan visa used by European countries could be introduced for the SAARC region.

Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal also spoke at the function, which saw the release of the Gurmukhi-Shahmukhi software prepared by Dr Gurpreet Singh Lehal which allows transliteration of manuscripts from Gurmukhi to Shahmukhi at the click of a button and the release of the translation of Guru Granth Sahib in Hindi by Prof Jodh Singh.

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