Islamabad, February 27th, 2015: Senior diplomats, parliamentarians, policy-makers and journalists from Pakistan and India met for the fourth round of the Track-II Islamabad Dialogue to discuss the state of bilateral relations, ahead of the much anticipated meeting between the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries on March 3.
The two delegations discussed a range of issues including the resumption of bilateral dialogue, Jammu and Kashmir, opportunities for cooperation towards the stability of Afghanistan, the shared challenges posed by climate change and the role of the media in creating an atmosphere for conducive for improving bilateral discourse. The Islamabad Dialogue was jointly organized by the Jinnah Institute and the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation on the 26 and 27 of February, 2015. The conference is part of Jinnah Institute’s leading initiative on peace building through Track II diplomacy between India and Pakistan. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Tariq Fatemi met the delegates from India and Pakistan and gave a key note address outlining the foreign policy priorities of the government.
The participants began the two day dialogue by welcoming the upcoming visit of the Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and the opportunity it provided for a reset of bilateral relations. They called on Islamabad and New Delhi to restart discussions on all outstanding issues and hoped that concrete progress would be made during the visit. Delegates discussed the prevailing political situation in both countries and its impact on shaping the bilateral relationship.
Senior journalists from India and Pakistan also dissected trends in print and electronic media, highlighting that a lack of information and understanding on both sides often prevented the media playing a constructive role in peace building. They called for opening up of airwaves for news and TV channels and a liberalization of the visa regime for media persons from both countries.
Participants welcomed recent developments in Afghanistan since the formation of the national unity government in Kabul and hoped that President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah would lead Afghanistan towards greater stability. Delegates called for both India and Pakistan to cooperate in ensuring stability in Afghanistan, which is necessary for regional peace and progress.
Finally participants noted the impact of climate change on South Asia and urged both governments to closely cooperate in addressing water management, environmental degradation, maintenance of catchment areas and alternate energy solutions.
They welcomed the forthcoming visit of Indian Foreign Secretary, Mr. S. Jaishankar to Pakistan. They felt that the Foreign Secretaries have an opportunity to pick up threads from the Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration, essential components of which are a comprehensive dialogue on all outstanding issues including Jammu & Kashmir;
They emphasized the need for strict adherence to the ceasefire and maintenance of peace and tranquility across the LoC and WB/IB;
They recommended effective cooperation to address the issue of terrorism and the growing threat of extremism;
They recommended that hurdles to already agreed CBMs be removed expeditiously, especially those facilitating people-to-people contacts, travel and trade between the two countries and across the LoC. Additional CBMs under discussion should be finalized and implemented as early as possible;
They expressed the hope that resumption of dialogue will be the start of a sustained effort towards building the desired peaceful, friendly and cooperative relationship;
They strongly felt that existing information barriers between the two countries be removed and steps be taken to include opening up news and other TV channels and exchange of ideas;
They urged implementation of the visa liberalization regime signed between the Foreign Ministers in 2012, which provided special non-reporting visa access and multi-entry 5 year visas for media persons;
They urged that Pakistan and India should cooperate in ensuring stability in Afghanistan;
Simultaneous with the progressive stabilization of Afghanistan, they hoped that the benefits of expanding the trade and transit agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan will enable the countries to become a trade, transportation, energy and minerals hub linking Central Asia to South Asia that makes Afghanistan’s recovery sustainable;
They recommended that the governments of India and Pakistan should urgently cooperate on addressing the challenges posed by climate change to their socio-economic development, especially food and energy security;
They urged cooperation for the effective implementation of Thimphu statement on climate change adopted at the 16th SAARC Summit in 2010;
They recommended that the two countries should also work in close cooperation to ensure that the new global climate agreement, to be adopted at the forthcoming conference of parties in Paris, responds to the needs of developing countries.
Aziz Ahmad Khan
Sardar Attique Ahmad Khan
Prem Shankar Jha
Amit Singh Chadha