Indo-Pak journalists call for resumption of bilateral dialogue
ISLAMABAD: Journalists from India and Pakistan at the 17th Chaophraya Dialogue on Thursday welcomed the recent meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Paris on the sidelines of the UN Conference on Climate Change, and expressed the hope that this could lead to a revival of bilateral dialogue.
They also welcomed reports of Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj’s decision to attend the forthcoming Heart of Asia ministerial meeting in Islamabad. These views were expressed by senior interlocutors from India and Pakistan meeting for the 17th round of Chaophraya Dialogue, a long-running Indo-Pak Track-II engagement jointly organised since 2008, by Jinnah Institute (JI) and Australia-India Institute (AII).
In a joint statement released at the end of the two-day dialogue, participants called for the resumption of the dialogue process, and recommended that cross-LoC interactions be discouraged. Moreover, it was suggested that the elected leaders of both parts of Kashmir meet annually to explore and promote trade, people-to-people interaction and generate good will.
Journalists from the two countries also called for the revival of the India-Pakistan back-channel diplomacy, and suggested this be kept away from the frenzy of the media glare. Over the course of the two-day deliberations, journalists and political commentators emphasised the importance of cultural exchanges, people-to-people contacts and sporting links between India and Pakistan, and urged that visa restrictions be eased to facilitate these interactions. On the subject of Afghanistan, it was suggested that India and Pakistan consider the possibility of joint bilateral dialogue on Afghanistan to explore their common interests.
Journalists also agreed that the two countries should work towards stronger cooperation within South Asia, and focus on making SAARC, a more effective platform for regional integration. They hoped that the two countries would meet soon to increase bilateral trade and economic cooperation, and urged Pakistan to give Non-Discriminatory Market Access (NDMA) status to India.