ISLAMABAD: Indian and Pakistani parliamentarians have called for a sustained dialogue process and expressed the hope that prime ministers of the two countries would meet in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session.
They were speaking at the concluding session of the fifth round of dialogue between parliamentarians of Pakistan and India organised by civil society organisation PILDAT here on Friday. In a joint statement issued after the meeting, they said the two prime ministers should meet in New York to keep the door open for peace and good relations.
They urged the two governments to continue the process of dialogue for durable peace in the region and for resolving issues affecting ties between the two countries.
Addressing the need for a holistic approach to conflict resolution, the parliamentarians urged their governments to engage on all issues, including those related to Jammu and Kashmir. As representatives of the people of Pakistan and India, they noted progress on various issues, including visas and trade, and urged them to strive to improve both neighbourly and regional relations.
They said there was an urgent need to address the critical issue of rising water scarcity in both the countries. Acknowledging that the Indus Water Treaty was the best means for resolving any possible differences relating to water resources, the parliamentarians urged the two governments to jointly examine issues relating to climate change and environment impact assessment and to consider technologies of efficient use of water in agriculture and to substantially improve yields.
Underlining the huge potential for bilateral trade which currently stood at $2 billion but had the potential of reaching $10bn if all agreements were implemented expeditiously and outstanding issues were resolved, the parliamentarians welcomed the establishment of India-Pakistan Joint Business Council and the priority areas of business it had identified.
They agreed that further improvements in trade and economic cooperation between the two countries required early progress towards granting the most-favoured nation status to India, addressing issues of non-tariff barriers identified by Pakistan, fully utilising and further expanding newly-built infrastructure at the Wahga-Attari border and opening the Monabao-Khokhrapar route for trade.
They called for re-opening the Indian consulate general in Karachi and a Pakistani diplomatic mission in Mumbai, strengthening air and shipping routes between Karachi and Mumbai and opening bank branches to facilitate trade exchanges.
The dialogue was attended by former Indian minister and member of Indian Rajya Sabha Mani Shankar Aiyar, K.C. Tyagi, D.P. Tripathy, Ms Anu Aga, Prof S.P. Singh Baghel and Ram Kirpal Yadav.
Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Defence Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, former defence minister Syed Naveed Qamar, former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid, Senator Nasreen Jalil and Senator Afrasiyab Khattak attended from the Pakistani side.