The fifth round of Pakistan-India
Legislators and Public Officials Dialogue was facilitated by PILDAT
in Dubai, UAE, on December 11, 2016 on the topics of Role
of Media in Improving Relations between Pakistan and India and
How to Positively Take Forward the ‘Fight Poverty’ Agenda.
The Dialogue brought together Members of
Parliament and Provincial Assemblies of Punjab and Sindh alongside experts
and media representatives from Pakistan who joined Members of Indian State
Legislatures of Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan alongside experts media representatives
In the session focused on Role of
Media in Improving Relations between Pakistan and India,
participants underscored that while media can play a role in positively
influencing relations between the two countries, the essential responsibility
to chart a course in this regard remains that of the elected leadership
in both India and Pakistan.
It was also recognized, at the outset, that
while dialogue is the only way forward for two countries to improve relations,
candid and consistent dialogue aimed at conflict resolution can only take
place when the two States recognize and address the issues such as those
included in the Composite Dialogue 1997 and the Comprehensive Dialogue 2015.
Given the recent experience of the Heart
of Asia Conference, the participants observed that in inter-State relationships,
due consideration, courtesy and diplomatic protocol must be observed. Similarly,
media should be given access without hindrance to cover all such events.
While promoting a balanced and positive
approach in news media of both countries towards improving relations, the
Dialogue recognised and appreciated the diversity of opinion in the Indian
and Pakistan media. In doing so, the participants recalled the earlier Joint
Communiqué of March 10, 2016 on the subject that urged media in both
countries towards the requirements of objective and professional reporting
upholding the core values and cardinal principles of journalism. In particular,
sensationalism and negative hype must be avoided.
The participants highlighted multiple challenges
in covering the Pakistan-India relationship and felt that an enabling environment
for free and fair reporting must be ensured.
Underlining the critical need for positive
and continuous engagement between Pakistani and Indian media, participants
highlighted that institutional arrangements in two countries through the
respective professional associations and forums of owners, editors and journalists
must be facilitated for dialogue.
Participants highlighted the continuing
issue of inability of news organisations in India and Pakistan to appoint
reporters in each others’ countries. They underscored that lack of
access for media to locations in the other country and obstacles in obtaining
visas for journalists of both countries remain key issues hampering an informed
portrayal of each country. Participants reiterated the earlier demand that
India and Pakistan should put in place policies ensuring ease of access,
travel and reporting by journalists from both countries.
Participants also reiterated the earlier
recommendation that requires initiatives in both conventional mainstream
media and social media by individuals and enterprises of the two countries
to promote an entirely new collaborative, cooperative mindset.
Participants highlighted that the phenomenal
growth in new digital media has enormous potential for positive engagement
between Pakistani and Indian citizens. At the same time new hazards have
emerged that require further deliberations.
In the session seeking participants’
advice on How to Positively Take Forward the “Fight Poverty”
Agenda, participants highlighted that South Asia has the highest
incidence of poverty in the world. While each country has specific conditions
behind poverty, a distinct part is played by narrow definitions of national
security which exacerbate poverty and lead to instability.
Participants also believed that resolution
of disputes between Pakistan and India can indeed free-up resources for
Participants stressed that poverty offers
a critical challenge for both India and Pakistan and both countries should
share successful policies and practices in alleviating poverty. In particular,
media should extensively report on success stories from the other country
Participants also highlighted that the challenge
of poverty in South Asia is directly linked with the size of population.
Effective policies to manage population growth is intrinsic to poverty alleviation.
While resource crunch is one key issue,
effective, transparent and corruption-free State spending, and inclusive
governance through local self-government, can alleviate poverty in both
countries. Participants underlined the critical role in this regard of enhanced
participation of women at all tiers of government.
Participants resolved to use their respective
linkages with legislatures and professional for a to project the content
and recommendations for action as given in the Joint Statement.
Participants appreciated PILDAT’s
consistent efforts in conceptualising, designing and facilitating dialogue
and interaction between Pakistan and India. While it was recognised as regrettable
that due to existing and emerging challenges in Pakistan and India relations,
the dialogue venue is outside of the two countries, it was heartening that
despite challenges, candid interaction and dialogue is made possible.
Under the leadership of Mr. Mani Shankar
Aiyar, Former Member of the Indian Parliament and Union Minister of
India, delegates from India included (order
of delegates in alphabetical order in the following sequence; Legislators and
Subject Experts/Journalists) Mr. Adarsh Shastri,
MLA, Delhi Legislative Assembly, Dwarka (Delhi),
Aam Admi Party – AAP; Mr. Nand Kishore Maharia, MLA,
Rajasthan Legislative Assembly, Fatepur (Rajasthan),
Indian National Congress – INC; Mr. Parminder Singh Dhull,
MLA, Haryana Legislative Assembly, Julana (Haryana), Indian National Lok Dal
– INLD; Mr. Vijender Garg Vijay, MLA, Delhi
Legislative Assembly, Rajinder Nagar, (Delhi), AAP; Mr.
Vishesh Ravi, MLA, Delhi Legislative Assembly, Karol Bagh (Delhi),
AAP; Mr. A. S. Panneerselvam, Readers’ Editor, The
Hindu, Chennai, India; Mr. Jyoti Kamal, Senior
Editor, CNN News 18; TV 18 Broadcast, Haryana, India; Ms.
Latha Jishnu, Contributing Editor, Down to Earth &
Freelance Journalist, New Delhi, India; Mr. Man Aman
Chhina, Assistant Editor, Indian Express, Punjab, India; Ms.
Ruby Arun, Group Editorial Adviser ETV News Network, New
With Senator (r) Javed Jabbar,
Former Federal Minister for Information & Media Development,
in the Chair, delegates from Pakistan included (order of delegates
in alphabetical order in the following sequence of Legislators (Senate, National
Assembly of Pakistan, Provincial Assembly of the Punjab and Sindh, followed
by Subject Experts/Journalists) Senator Sassui Palijo, Sindh,
Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarian – PPPP; Dr. Arif Alvi,
MNA, NA-250, Karachi-XII, Sindh, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf – PTI; Mr.
Muhammad Tallal Chaudry, MNA, NA-76, Faisalabad-II, Punjab, Pakistan
Muslim League- Nawaz - PML-N; Mr. Shafqat Mahmood, MNA, NA-126,
Lahore-IX, Punjab, PTI; Mrs. Shaista Pervaiz, MNA, WR-NA-278,
Punjab, PML-N; Mrs.
Ayesha Javed, MPA, W-317, PML-N; Malik Muhammad
Ahmad Khan, MPA, PML-N; Dr. Murad Rass, MPA,
PP-152 (Lahore-XVI), PTI; Ms. Nabila Hakim Ali Khan,
MPA, W-358, PTI; Mrs.
Mahtab Akbar Rashdi, MPA, RSW-156, Pakistan Muslim League – Functional
- PML-F; Mr. Ghazi Salahuddin, Senior Journalist/Columnist-The
News; Mr. Habib Akram, Executive Editor, Dunya TV/Columnist
Dunya Newspaper; Rana Jawad, Director News, Geo News; Mr.
Ghulam Murtaza Solangi, Senior Anchor/Director Public Outreach -Capital
TV; Mr. Tahir Khalil, Bureau Chief-Islamabad, Daily Jang and
Mr. Usman Mujib Shami, Executive Editor, Daily Pakistan. The
PILDAT Team conceptualizing, supporting and facilitating the Dialogue included
Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President, Ms. Aasiya Riaz,
Joint Director and Ms. Shahira Khan, Projects Manager, PILDAT.