Nineteen girls from Pakistan who were in the city to take part in a youth festival left for home today after conclusion of the event, “overwhelmed” by the Indian hospitality. The girls had reached the city Tuesday night on a seven- day visit to take part in the 11th Global Youth Peace Festival, which concluded here last evening.
After Indian Army carried out surgical strikes across the LoC, parents of the girls had expressed concern about their welfare here and the event’s organisers had indicated that they may head back home earlier than scheduled.
Pramod Sharma, the event’s organiser, said after the Indian authorities including the Ministry of External Affairs assured them that they should not worry about the girls while they are here, their trip carried on as per schedule.
“Today, the Pakistani girls and one male member of the delegation left for home. They were sent back home in a bus from here and the crossed over to Pakistan from the Wagah border,” Sharma said.
On October 1, head of the delegation Aliya Harir who runs a cross-border peace initiative Aghaz-e-Dosti had spoken to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who assured them all help.
“Extremely overwhelmed. Spoke to @SushmaSwaraj ji who assured that Pakistani delegation of #GYPF2016 will reach Pakistan back safe,” Aliya said in a tweet. In her reply, Swaraj tweeted, “Aliya – I was concerned about your well being kyonki betiyan to sabki sanjhi hoti hain (… because one’s daughter is everyone’s).”
According to Sharma, the girls also visited Shimla during their trip. “The Pakistani guests said they felt at home here and were overwhelmed by the Indian hospitality,” he said.
After the surgical strikes, Chandigarh police had further strengthened the security of the Pakistani girls. For most of the girls, who had come under the banner of Pakistan’s Girls for Peace Group, this was their first visit to India.