India and Pakistan came together to commemorate the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi at the U.N., celebrated as the International Day of Non-Violence.

India’s Permanent Representative at the U.N. Hardeep Singh Puri hosted the event on Tuesday here and was joined by his Pakistani counterpart Abdullah Hussain Haroon. External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna presided.

The General Assembly had adopted a resolution in 2007 declaring Gandhiji’s birthday as International Day of Non-Violence.

Mr. Puri underscored the increasing relevance for Gandhian ideals by citing the high number of references made to the Father of the Nation during speeches by world leaders at the 67th session of the UNGA, including by U.S. President Barack Obama.

He said, “No matter which we way look at it, the Mahatma belongs jointly to us [India and Pakistan], sometime some of us claim that we are the rightful heirs but if you look at what the Mahatma preached, the relevance is equally strong.”

Mr. Haroon described Gandhiji as a “remarkable” man and recalled that he had visited his residence in Karachi and written a “lovely letter” to Mr. Haroon’s family when his grandfather had passed away.

He said the greatness of Gandhiji was that he ensured that at the time of partition Pakistan was promptly returned its financial dues. “Pakistan owes a debt of gratitude to a person who put himself even further at risk in ensuring that the right thing is done. That is what embodies the entire life of the Mahatma.”

Describing Gandhiji as a simple human being, Mr. Krishna said he wanted to set an example by practising what he preached.

Mr. Krishna said while the world of today was vastly different from the one that Gandhiji lived in, conflict and inequality continue to be an inevitable part of the human condition.

Mr. Krishna recalled that he had first met Gandhi as a two-year-old boy in his village in Mysore when the Indian independence leader visited a school that Mr. Krishna’s father ran and in which two Dalit boys were studying.

President of the General Assembly Vuk Jeremic said he had chosen the overarching theme for the General Assembly’s work for the next one year as “bringing about settlement of international disputes by peaceful means”.

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