Indian, Pakistani parliamentarians engage on people-centric issues

August 19th, 2011 - 12:47 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 18 (IANS) Seeking to expand the “constituency for peace”, parliamentarians from India and Pakistan Thursday held wide-ranging discussions here on issues that focused on enhancing trust and boosting people-to-people contacts between the two countries.

The two-day parliamentarians’ dialogue, which began Thursday, is being being jointly chaired by BJP leader Yashwant Sinha and Pakistani Senator Jan Mohammad Khan Jamali.

The dialogue is aimed at taking the dialogue between India and Pakistan from the official level and to make it people-centric.

The parliamentarians discussed the 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.

“For the last 64 years, neither of the foreign offices have achieved any success. The agenda for this meeting is to give directions to the issues (between India and Pakistan) and solve them,” Jamali said. Two generations have passed and the third one has arrived, so the time has come for parliamentarians to talk, he added.

“We talk in a very frank manner without going for official vocabularies. We talk straight and we want to take a lead. Thankfully, it is democracy in Pakistan right now. So time has come to find a solution,” he said when asked whether the meeting will discuss issues like Kashmir and terrorism.

At the end of day one, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik hosted an Iftar dinner at the chancery premises.

“The Pakistani parliamentarians mixed up with other guests and exchanged views with their Indian counterparts,” the Pakistan high commission said in a statement late Thursday night.

The two-day dialogue is expected to come out with a host of suggestions to promote trade and boost people-to-people contacts with a view to bridging trust deficit between the two countries.

The parliamentarians also discussed 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 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.

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