Amid a chill in Indo-Pak ties, political leaders and prominent journalists from the two countries have met here and underlined that the only way forward to improve relations was through a “candid and consistent” dialogue.
The fifth round of ‘Pakistan-India Legislators and Public Officials Dialogue’ was held on Sunday and facilitated by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT).
Under the leadership of Mani Shankar Aiyar, former MP and union minister, delegates from India included MLAs from Delhi, Rajasthan and Haryana. Some prominent journalists from India also attended the event.
The topics on the agenda were the role of media in improving relations between Pakistan and India and how to positively take forward the ‘Fight Poverty’ agenda.
The participants underscored that while media can play a role in positively influencing ties between the two countries, the essential responsibility to chart a course in this regard remains with elected leadership in both India and Pakistan.
“It was also recognised, at the outset, that while dialogue is the only way forward for two countries to improve relations, candid and consistent dialogue aimed at conflict resolution can only take place when the two states recognise and address the issues such as those included in the Composite Dialogue 1997 and the Comprehensive Dialogue 2015,” a statement said.
The participants observed that in inter-State relationships, due consideration, courtesy and diplomatic protocol must be observed. And media should be given access without hindrance to cover all such events.
They recalled the earlier Joint Communique of March 10, 2016 that urged media in both countries about objective and professional reporting, upholding the core values of journalism and avoiding sensationalism and negative hype.
Participants highlighted the continuing issue of inability of news organisations in India and Pakistan to appoint reporters in each other’s countries.
They underscored that lack of access for media to locations in the other country and obstacles in obtaining visas for journalists of both countries remain key issues hampering an informed portrayal of each country.
Participants highlighted that the phenomenal growth in new digital media has enormous potential for positive engagement between Pakistani and Indian citizens.
Noting that resolution of disputes between Pakistan and India can free-up resources for poverty alleviation, the participants stressed that poverty offers a critical challenge for both countries which should share successful policies and practices in alleviating it.
Tensions have been running high between India and Pakistan at the LoC and got escalated after the cross border terror attack on an army base in Nagrota in Jammu.