India, Pakistan parliamentarians to hold dialogue next week

August 13th, 2011 - 5:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Aug 13 (IANS) A 20-member multi-party parliamentary delegation from Pakistan will come here next week for a dialogue with Indian parliamentarians to explore ways to resolve humanitarian issues like the release of prisoners and to strengthen people-to-people contacts.

The Pakistani delegation, led by Senate Deputy Chairman Jan Mohammad Khan Jamali and National Assembly Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi, will arrive here Aug 17.

The two-day India-Pakistan parliamentarians dialogue, that begins Aug 18, will be co-chaired by Senator S.M. Zafar of the PML-Q, also a former federal law minister, and Yashwant Sinha, senior BJP leader and a former external affairs minister.

They will discuss all issues that impinge on bilateral relations, but the focus will be on finding ways to promote trade and boost people-to-people contacts with a view to bridging trust deficit between the two countries, said informed sources.

They are expected to press for a resolution of humanitarian issues, like the release of prisoners in each other’s territory that has the potential to create a lot of goodwill between the two countries.

The MPs are also expected to discuss Jammu and Kashmir, the proposed plan to liberalise the visa regime, the role of media in removing the trust deficit, the role of military and intelligence agencies and the continuation of Track II dialogue, besides terrorism.

The issue of prisoners figured prominently in parliament here this week with India pressing for the release of Sarabjit Singh, an Indian national on death row who was convicted for his alleged complicity in multiple blasts in Lahore and Multan in 1990.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also told parliament that the home ministry was in touch with the Rajasthan government over releasing Pakistani doctor Khaleel Chishty who is currently serving life sentence in a jail in Ajmer.

The parliamentarians’ dialogue will take place barely weeks after the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan held talks here and unveiled a host of cross-Kashmir confidence-building measures.

The dialogue is being facilitated by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), a think tank that works for strengthening democracy and democratic institutions in Pakistan.

The first edition of the dialogue was held in Pakistan in January this year. According to PILDAT, the dialogue aims at enhancing the role of parliamentary diplomacy in Pakistan’s relations in the region and around the world.

Besides Sinha, some Indian MPs invited for the dialogue include Jaswant Singh (BJP), Mani Shankar Aiyar (Congress), Shashi Tharoor (Congress), Brinda Karat (CPI-M), Manish Tewari (Congress), Chandan Mitra (BJP), Naveen Jindal (Congress), Sandeep Dikshit (Congress)and Deepender Singh Hooda (Congress).

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