LAHORE, Apr 22: Prominent academics, writers and analysts from India and Pakistan met today at a closed-door seminar titled “A Common Destiny”, the first of Aman ki Asha’s series of discussions on issues of strategic importance.
Delegates at the first of Aman ki Asha’s series of discussions on issues of strategic importance to India and Pakistan, titled “A Common Destiny”, agreed on the need for peace between the two countries, and the importance of a sustained dialogue to resolve bilateral issues including Jammu & Kashmir, terrorism, water-sharing, trade and investment.
They endorsed the Aman ki Asha initiative of the Jang Group of Pakistan and The Times of India Group and recommended the following:
WATER: India and Pakistan face the common threats of climate change and global warming that are leading to a global water scarcity. At times of water scarcity, stress levels tend to rise. The Indus Waters Treaty of 1960, termed as a ‘peace treaty’, must be followed in letter and spirit.
VISA: One of the most effective ways of reducing conflict is to allow people to meet. India and Pakistan must do away with visa restrictions including city specific visas, police reporting, the same entry-exit points, etc.
TERRORISM: India and Pakistan face the common threat of extremism and terrorism. Participants urged both governments to take all steps to comprehensively defeat this menace. Dialogue between the two nations should continue and not be hostage to the actions of the terrorists/spoilers.
INTELLIGENCE SHARING: To frustrate terrorist designs, there needs to be enhanced intelligence sharing between both countries. The intelligence agencies need to talk and agree on a code of conduct.
DEFENCE: Both countries must agree to renounce the use of force, overt or covert.
TRADE AND INVESTMENT: South Asia forms a natural trade and economic regional block. Trade and investment develop sustainable interests and interdependencies between trading partners, creating a stake in each other’s economic development and well-being.
To speed up the emergence of a South Asian free trade area, India and Pakistan should progressively reduce tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade. This would be particularly valuable in the realm of textiles, as current restrictions effectively prevent Pakistan’s exports from reaching the Indian domestic market.
Both countries should welcome investments in each other countries and facilitate inter- and intra-regional trade.
INFORMATION: Enable the free flow of information between the two countries. The current bans on Indian news channels and publications in Pakistan and on Pakistani channels and publications in India must be lifted.
Lift the restriction on resident journalists in each other’s countries – according to the current exchange protocol, only two journalists from India and Pakistan are allowed to work in the other country.
YOUTH: More than half of our population is under 25 years old. A skilled, trained and well-educated South Asia has the potential to be the global knowledge hub. Investing in this population is essential to realise the potential of our demographic dividend.
EDUCATION: Our education budgets need to be progressively increased to a level commensurate with the focus on education that this region needs. We must also ensure that history and other textbooks are objective, accurate and non-sectarian, and free of prejudice and bias.
We strongly support the South Asian University established by governments and call upon the governments to ensure that the University is accessible to all students in the region.
SOUTH ASIA AND SAARC: In this age of regional blocks, South Asia (SAARC) can play a dominant role on various issues confronting our planet, like: security, energy, water, environment, global trade, etc. This is in the strategic interest of both India and Pakistan.
Delegates from India included Salman Haidar, former foreign secretary, Prem Shankar Jha, writer & analyst, Amitabh Mattoo, professor, international relations, JNU, Admiral (Retd) K. Nayyer, and Admiral (Retd) Ramdas (Chairperson Emeritus of the Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy).
Participants from Pakistan included Dr Mubashir Hasan, former federal minister, Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri, former foreign minister, IA Rehman, director HRCP, Arif Nizami, senior journalist, Shafqat Mahmood, columnist & analyst, Razzak Dawood, businessman, Khaled Ahmed, senior journalist and Amin Hashwani, businessman.
The discussion was moderated by former national security advisor Maj. Gen. (rtd) Mahmud Ali Durrani, who is also a prominent figure in track two dialogues between India and Pakistan.
There will be a televised interaction between delegates and invited members of civil society and the media on April 23.
Filed under: Pakistan-India Tagged: | Admiral (Retd) K. Nayyer, Admiral (Retd) Ramdas, Amin Hashwani, Amitabh Mattoo, Chairperson Emeritus of the Pakistan-India People's Forum for Peace and Democracy, Dr Mubashir Hasan, Gen Mahmud Ali Durrani, I.A. Rehman, Jammu & Kashmir, Kashmir, Khaled Ahmed, Prem Shankar Jha, Salman Haidar, Shafqat Mahmood, South Asian University, terrorism, trade and investment, water-sharing