LAHORE, Aug 26: Lawmakers of Pakistan and India would discuss deep-rooted disputes like Kashmir and water in their fifth round of talks likely to be held in January next year, said Leader of the House in Senate Jehangir Badr on Sunday.

“We’ve set the agenda for the next round of dialogue which will discuss democracy and frame recommendations for the two governments on how to settle old controversies like water, Kashmir and Siachen,” he said while talking to reporters on his return from India.

He, along with a parliamentary delegation representing all major political parties, had crossed the Wagah border five days ago to hold the fourth round of talks with Indian lawmakers as part of parliamentary diplomacy.

The delegation also visited Bihar state to see the progress the province had made under Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over the past seven years.

The parleys were facilitated by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat). So far the talks have been held in Islamabad, New Delhi and Patna.

About the just concluded talks, Mr Badr said a joint declaration had been adopted which urged their respective governments to quickly liberalise the visa regime. They called for facilitating on priority basis health-related travel and religious tourism in both countries, accelerating exchange of artists and media people and giving visa-free access to educationists and senior citizens of the two countries.

He said that after visiting Bihar the members of the Pakistani delegation felt that many of the schemes implemented in the Indian state could be replicated in Pakistan.

ANP Senator Haji Adeel said that Mr Kumar had been invited to visit Pakistan.

Lauding the progress made by Bihar, he said the Kumar government had successfully reduced the rate of out-of-school children down to 3.5 per cent while its law for accountability of government officers had also impressed the Pakistani legislators.

He said they made the Indian media realise that Islamabad was itself a victim and not a centre of terrorism as an undeclared third world war was being fought on its territory for the sake of world peace and in the process Pakistani nation was offering great sacrifices.

PML-N MNA Khurram Dastagir Khan said both the sides decided to continue peace efforts notwithstanding various controversies between the two countries.

PML-N MNA Anushe Rehman said they would put the joint declaration before parliament for discussion and recommending the government to act for sake of welfare of the masses.

Pildat’s Executive Director Ahmed Bilal Mehboob told Dawn that for the first time a direct parliamentary interaction between provinces of both the countries had been facilitated.

Satisfied with the outcome of the exercise, he said East Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and UP could be next provinces in line for interaction with Pakistani provinces.


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