ISLAMABAD: Participants of the 15th round of Chaophraya Dialogue have asked India and Pakistan to demonstrate political will for restoring calm on the Line of Control and make the 2003 ceasefire a formal agreement.
The Chaophraya Dialogue, a Track II engagement between Pakistan and India, organised jointly by the Jinnah Institute (JI) and the Australia India Institute (AII), was held in Krabi, Thailand, from Dec 8-9.
The Dialogue, which is described by its organisers as “the longest consistently running” Indo-Pak Track-II engagement since 2008, encourages talks on complicated Indo-Pak relations.
The 15th round focused on recent bilateral developments, the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, tensions along the Line of Control and Working Boundary/International Border, terrorism and extremism, trade and development, and the future of Afghanistan, a statement issued by Jinnah Institute here on Thursday said.
According to a joint statement issued at the end of the Dialogue, “it was emphasised that maintenance of peace along this line would not be possible without the resolute demonstration of political will on either side; and...recommended that the two sides work in good faith to negotiate the ceasefire into a formal agreement”.
Pakistan, India asked to abide by their pledge not to allow use of their soil against each other
Through other recommendations, militaries on both sides of the LoC and Working Boundary were asked to develop information sharing and communication mechanisms regarding the incidents along the de facto border so that peaceful conditions could be maintained.
On terrorism, the participants suggested setting up of a more empowered counter-terrorism cooperation mechanism and periodic contacts between spymasters of the two countries.
Referring to threats from transnational organisations like the Islamic State (Daish), Al Qaeda and affiliated entities the participants of the Dialogue recommended enhanced bilateral cooperation between intelligence and investigative agencies.
The joint statement urged both Indian and Pakistani governments to abide by their commitment of not allowing the use of their soil against each other and disallow actions or statements inciting violence against the other.
“They urged that the perpetrators of 26/11 and Samjhauta Express and other incidents of terror be brought to early justice on both sides,” the statement added.
On the bilateral aspect, the Dialogue asked the political leadership of both countries to consider a reset in their ties and called for resuming engagement at the official level so that bilateral dialogue on all issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, terrorism, trade, etc., could be restarted at the earliest.
The statement stressed on addressing humanitarian issues such as that of prisoners and detained fishermen on both sides as a matter of priority; facilitating visas by implementing the new liberalised visa agreement; resuming regular meetings between the Rangers and the BSF and the Maritime Security Agency and the Coast Guard and reactivating contacts for normalisation of trade relations.
The Dialogue also recommended promoting trade and cooperation on Afghanistan. The participants said that India and Pakistan could support economic development through exploring joint projects on agriculture, education, healthcare, infrastructure development and connectivity in Afghanistan. However, the continued growth of poppy cultivation, drug trafficking and the issue of refugee repatriation were marked as critical challenges.
Former federal minister and ambassador to the US, Sherry Rehman led the Pakistani delegation, which included former foreign secretary Salman Bashir, Ambassador Aziz Ahmad Khan, retired Lt Gen Tariq Ghazi, Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar, retired Maj Gen Athar Abbas, retired AVM Shahzad Chaudhry, Ejaz Haider, Dr Asad Sayeed, Dr Simbal Khan, Mosharraf Zaidi, Salman Zaidi and Fahd Humayun.
The Indian delegation was led by Prof Amitabh Mattoo and included BJP leader Amb Hardeep Puri, former ambassadors K.C. Singh, Meera Shankar, Jayant Prasad, Dr Arvind Virmani, mediapersons Siddharth Varadarajan, Praveen Swami, Suhasini Haidar, Prof Ajay Darshan Behera, Dr Happymon Jacob and Dr Mallika Joseph.
Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2014