Islamabad Dialogue urges India and Pakistan to Make Meaningful and Serious Attempts for Greater Peace and Cooperation
April 29, 2011
ISLAMABAD: High level policy makers from India and Pakistan welcomed the resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan at all levels and urged both governments to follow up the spirit of cooperation and friendship displayed at Mohali with innovative, bold and actionable CBMs between both countries.
A delegation comprising of senior Indian diplomats, legislators, media persons and academics discussed a range of issues with prominent Pakistani opinion leaders, ranging from the bilateral dialogue, Kashmir, terrorism and the role of the media in Indo-Pak relations at The Islamabad Dialogue, organized by the Jinnah Institute from April 28th to April 29th, 2011. The conference was part of Jinnah Institute’s leading initiative on peace building through Track II diplomacy between India and Pakistan. Jinnah Institute partnered with Delhi based think tank Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR) for the Islamabad Dialogue.
Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, Prime Minister of AJK, observed that the unresolved Kashmir issue is a constant hurdle in the establishment and continuation of good relations between India and Pakistan. He urged participants to keep channels of communication open at all levels since dialogue is the only tested means of conflict resolution. Kashmiri delegates called for an end to human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.
Mr. Baijayant Panda, member of the Indian Lok Sabha, said that the lack of peace in South Asia and the strained relationship between India and Pakistan has stymied economic growth in the region. He said that improving trade relations will help normalize the overall relationship between India and Pakistan. Aziz Khan and Humayun Khan both agreed that the peace process should proceed in increments, but remain uninterrupted. Salman Haider and Gen Durrani said that Kashmir is central to the peace process and needs an inclusive dialogue involving all stakeholders in both parts of Kashmir.
Participants strongly condemned terrorism in South Asia. Pakistani participants agreed that terrorism posed a serious challenge to the country. Teesta Setalvad, a renowned human rights lawyer from Mumbai, noted with concern, the rise of extremism in India.
Sushobha Barve, Executive Director, Center for Dialogue and Reconciliation emphasized the need for continued engagement between civil society in India and Pakistan through track II and III dialogues.
Riaz Khokhar and Mosharraf Zaidi, noted with concern, the shrinking constituencies for peace amongst young people in India and Pakistan. They flagged this as a potential threat to peaceful relations in the future and urged both countries to work towards curbing this negative trend.
Nasim Zehra, veteran journalist and Siddharth Vardarajan, Strategic Affairs Editor of the Hindu, chaired a panel on the role of the media in the Indo-Pak conflict. Participants stressed the need for professionalism and responsibility in their reportage on Indo-Pak affairs. Mohammad Maalick, Editor, The News, urged the opening of the Indian airwaves to Pakistani media and news channels to provide an appropriate counter-narrative.
The conference held working group sessions on themes of bilateral peace, terrorism and conflict resolution, the interaction of media across borders and bilateral strategies for Kashmir.
The Indian delegation included, Sushobha Barve, Executive Director Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation, former foreign secretary Salman Haider, Member Rajya Sabha Baijayant Panda, former member of Lok Sabha Manvendra Singh, Member Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly Yusuf Tarigami, journalist and peace activist Anuradha Bhasin, journalist and civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad, and editor strategic affairs, The Hindu, Siddharth Vardarajan, Zubair Dar and Jyoti Malhotra.
Pakistani participants included President of Jinnah Institute, Sherry Rehman, Prime Minister AJ&K Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, former ambassador Humayun Khan, former ambassador Aziz A. Khan, director current affairs Dunya News, Nasim Zehra and former ambassador Riaz Khokhar, Chair DSS QAU Rifaat Hussain, defence analyst General (retd) Talat Masood, General Mahmud Durrani, Editor The News Mr. Mohd. Malick, columnist Mosharraf Zaidi, and former Ambassador Mr. Arif Kamal.
29th April, 2011
- We welcome the resumption of dialogue between the highest levels of leadership between the two countries and the meeting of the Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers at Mohali.
- We are encouraged that India and Pakistan have committed themselves to discussing and resolving all outstanding issues, particularly Kashmir and terrorism.
- The new environment of cooperation and mutual respect between the two countries that was reinvigorated at Mohali must now be followed up with fresh, bold and innovative measures which will ensure the permanent transformation of the relationship between India and Pakistan from an adversarial one to a partnership for regional prosperity. We propose measures that include consideration of a no-war pact, a redeployment of troops, a peace treaty between the two countries and the renunciation of the use of violence, in any form, by either country.
- Given the re-establishment of both ministerial and official contacts between the two governments in various fields, we feel it is important that there be military-to-military contact as part of an effort to promote greater understanding between the two militaries.
- Ways and means to enhance and facilitate people-to-people contact must be initiated, especially with regards to the contact between Indian and Pakistani university students, Indian and Pakistani journalists, Indian and Pakistani businessmen, Indian and Pakistani artists and musicians and Indian and Pakistani senior citizens.
- We welcome the recent agreements to address the granting of Most Favored Nation status for India and the removal of non-tariff barriers for Pakistan. A liberalized bilateral trade regime is of urgent importance and must be pursued vigorously. The economic uplift of the people of India and Pakistan is the ultimate reward that both countries must seek through the peace process. Trade also reduces tensions and promotes normalcy between nations. A prosperous safe, secure and stable Afghanistan is of vital importance to both India and Pakistan. The current geopolitical situation offers an unprecedented opportunity to both India and Pakistan to explore ways to cooperate and enable greater regional security and prosperity.
- We recognize that Kashmir continues to be a critical component of the South Asia dynamic and therefore sustained attention for any meaningful advance in the Indo-Pak peace process. Respect for human rights should be accorded the highest priority.
- We agree that the region should be consecutively demilitarized.
- We recommend that New Delhi and Islamabad should facilitate a dialogue between representatives from all parts of Jammu &Kashmir reflecting all shades of political opinion as part of an inclusive peace process.
- We appreciate that both India and Pakistan have continued cross LoC trade and people to people contacts during the period that official dialogue was suspended.
- We endorse existing CBMs and calls for their effective implementation through the removal of obstacles, particularly in cross LoC travel and trade including the opening of additional travel routes.
- We call upon the two governments to provide banking and communication facilities for cross LoC trade as well an upgradation of trade infrastructure.
- We agree that the governments of India and Pakistan should jointly invest in the ecological preservation of the Indus Basin along with the formation of a joint Intra-Kashmir Environmental Study Group.
- We agree that terrorism should not be used as an instrument of policy. To that end sectarian and communal bias in the functioning of the agencies and institutions of the state are unacceptable and measures should be taken to discourage them. It was held that legal and legislative hurdles be removed to effectively prosecute cross border and transnational crimes; judges of the higher courts and members of bar councils should have an institutionalized framework of interaction that facilitates and encourages transparency in the process of prosecuting acts of terror; FIA and NIA, as nodal agencies, should have regularly scheduled and unscheduled interactions to cover all aspects of cooperation to combat terror; institutional capacity should be built and strengthened on both sides of the border for a thorough and professional investigation and prosecution of acts of terrorism.
- We urge, that the media maintain professional standards when reporting on bilateral issues, especially, all acts of terror in order to address professional and fair reporting across the border and to enhance person-to-person contact and access to accurate information.
- We strongly recommend an open visa regime with no restrictions for accredited journalists in both countries.
- We believe it is essential for both India and Pakistan to have open access to cross-border media products, including (but not limited to) television channels and films.
- We recommend that there should be no restrictions on the number of correspondents based in either country.
- We recommend an exchange of correspondents/media professionals between media houses across the border to report on a full spectrum of issues for a dedicated amount of time.
- We recommend that media houses in both countries should hold sensitization workshops for all media professionals reporting on Indo-Pak issues.
Salman Haider, former Foreign Secretary
Yusuf Tarigami, Member J&K Legislative Assembly
Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor, Kashmir Times
Teesta Setalvad, civil rights activist, Editor Communalism Combat
Siddharth Vardarajan, author and Strategic Affairs Editor, The Hindu
Gull Mohd Wani, Senior Associate Professor, University of Kashmir
Baijayant Panda, Member Lok Sabha
Manvendra Singh, former member Lok Sabha
Jyoti Malhotra, TV anchor and Consulting Editor, Business Standard
Zubair Dar, Program Officer Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation
Sushobha Barve, Executive Director, Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation
Humayun Khan, former Ambassador
Aziz A Khan, former Ambassador
Rifaat Hussain, Chair Defence and Strategic Studies, QAU
Nasim Zehra, Director Current Affairs, Dunya TV
General (retd) Talat Masood, defense analyst
Mohammad Malick, Editor The News
Mosharraf Zaidi, columnist
Arif Kamal, former Ambassador
Zahid Hussain, author and senior journalist
Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, Prime Minister AJ&K
Sherry Rehman, President Jinnah Institute and parliamentarian