COAS’s brother says free movement of students to strengthen India-Pakistan ties

Pakistani fans celebrated Indian cricket team’s victory in the World Cup final, Pakistan Army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s brother said here Thursday as he sought “free movement of students by offering scholarship programmes” to strengthen ties between both countries.

“The spirit generated by cricket was such that we celebrated India’s victory in the final. Even the semifinal (between India and Pakistan) generated a lot of euphoria between the two neighbours. It’s of course a victory of cricket,” Air Commodore (retd) Farooq H. Kayani, principal of Lawrence College in Murree — a popular hill-station in the Punjab province of Pakistan, told reporters here.

He was here along with a 20-member delegation of Lawrence College to meet Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.

Stressing on the need to have more student exchange programmes, Farooq Kayani said: “The governments (of both the countries) should allow free movement of students by offering scholarship programmes. It’s the best way to strengthen the grand old ties. It’s the power that can change the mindset.”

“Of course, the Mohali spirit has brought the two heads together. It’s time to further extend the innings,” said Farooq Kayani while referring to the March 30 India-Pakistan World Cup semifinal match that was played in Mohali and watched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani.

The Pakistani delegation, comprising teachers and 17 students, reached India Tuesday. They will participate in Hodson Run — one of the historical annual cross country races and most popular sporting events of The Lawrence School in Sanawar in Kasauli hills of Himachal Pradesh Friday.

Farooq Kayani said there was a lot of similarity between the two nations. “You see, people, their customs, traditions, outfits – all are alike.”

His wife Syeda Kayani said both countries share similar traditions and customs. “We are feeling nice and homely to be here.”

Later, they took a casual stroll on the Mall, the main street of this former British summer capital.

The delegation also took back the warm memories of the state as they picked up some woollen clothes from shops.

Both the schools in India and Pakistan were co-founded by Sir Henry Lawrence during the pre-independence era.

The long-distance race in which both the schools participate is named in the memory of Major William Stephen Rakes Hodson.

In 1857, Major Hodson raised a cavalry regiment, Hodson’s Horse, in the British Army which exists today as the 4th Horse Regiment in the Indian Army.

Last year, Lawrence College celebrated its 150th founders in which the Pakistani prime minister was the chief guest.

“Besides being a unique opportunity and honour to host our brethren school, it will also strengthen our bonds of amity and peace between the two nations,” said headmaster Parveen Vashishta of Lawrence School, Sanawar.

The residential public school of Sanawar, set up in 1847, boasts of alumni like Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and actor Sanjay Dutt.