India,Pak MPs discuss liberal visa regime
Dialogue To Focus On CBMs,Peace
New Delhi, Aug 23: The much awaited liberal visa regime between India and Pakistan became the centre of discussion between a group of visiting Pak MPs and their Indian counterparts here on Thursday. The two-sides held a wide-ranging dialogue on the issue which they felt is imperative to promoting peace in the subcontinent.
A visiting Pakistani Parliamentary delegation led by Senator Sabir Ali Baloch, deputy chairperson of the Pakistan Senate, engaged in intense discussions with a group of Indian MPs led by Yashwant Sinha, a senior BJP leader and a former foreign minister, and Congress's Mani Shankar Aiyar. Besides Sinha and Aiyar, many other Indian MPs joined the dialogue. They included Satyavrat Chaturvedi, Naresh Gujral, Kanimozhi, Kirti Azad, Supriya Sule and BJ Panda.
This apart the Parliamentarians from two countries also discussed prospects of further strengthening Indo-Pak ties with a particular focus on easing the visa regime, the role of media, education and local government in promoting stronger relations between the two countries. They also reviewed and analyzed the progress in the official dialogue between the two countries.
The dialogue has assumed significance as it takes place ahead of External Affairs Minister SM Krishna’s visit to Islamabad for talks with his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar to review the second round of dialogue after the two sides revived their ties following a long hiatus after the 26/11 terror attacks.
While Krishna and Khar will discuss contentious issues like terror and Kashmir, the two ministers are also expected to discuss strengthening of cross-border trade and travel linkages.
The two countries had some time back finalised an agreement for liberalizing the visa regime. But the signing of this accord was deferred in view of Pakistan’s stand that it needed to be signed at the political level between home ministers of the two countries.
"The Pakistani side informed that some internal approvals were under process and the agreement will be signed once they are in place," Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahmed later told the Rajya Sabha.
The dialogue will continue on Friday when the MPs are expected to discuss opportunities of collaboration in the area of health and also possibilities of expanding the scope of the MPs' Dialogue.
The parliamentarians are expected to press for a resolution of humanitarian issues, like the release of prisoners in each other's territory that has the potential to create a lot of goodwill between the two countries.
The dialogue is being facilitated by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), a think-tank that works for strengthening democracy and democratic institutions in Pakistan.
On Saturday, the Pakistani parliamentarians will leave for Patna where they will meet Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 23 Aug 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 23 Aug 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 24 Aug 2012 00:00:00 IST
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