India-Pakistan Legislators and Public Officials Dialogue on Sharing of Experiences on Governance and Democracy

December 11, 2016; Dubai, UAE


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  1. 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.

  2. 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 from India.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.  

  6. 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.

  7. 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.  

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. Participants also believed that resolution of disputes between Pakistan and India can indeed free-up resources for poverty alleviation.

  14. 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 as well.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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/JournalistsMr. 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 Delhi, India.

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/JournalistsSenator 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.