Dialogue Ten

Introduction

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Key opinion makers from India and Pakistan – including former diplomats, military officers, journalists from the print and electronic media, academics and analysts – met at Colombo for the 10th round of the Chaophraya Dialogue from 2nd-3rd March, 2012, organized by the Jinnah Institute (JI) and the Australia India Institute (AII).

The Chaophraya Dialogue is an Indo-Pak Track-II initiative jointly undertaken by the Jinnah Institute (JI) and Australia India Institute (AII) to encourage informed discussion of bilateral relations and enhance stakes in peace. The process has is now in its third year. The dialogue is primarily meant to give an opportunity to members of the policy and media communities and other groups in India and Pakistan to interact with each other on a sustained basis.

The Chaophraya Dialogue has encouraged participants to share the conclusions of each round with their respective governments. It has also provided a useful forum when the official dialogue process between India and Pakistan has been frozen, especially after the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. During this period, when the official talks between the two countries were suspended, the Chaophraya Dialogue managed to bring together senior interlocutors from India and Pakistan multiple times.

Resolution

Bilateral Relations

The conference is encouraged by:

  • The growing stability of the India-Pakistan bilateral dialogue and particularly the recent breakthroughs on trade;

  • The participants express the confidence that expansion of bilateral trade will evolve in a manner that is mutually beneficial;

  • Noting that overall progress on other issues has been slow, the conference recommends that both sides strive toward a permanent environment of peace and stability through sustained dialogue;

  • The conference agrees that the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Pakistan will go a long way towards advancing the abovementioned goals and hopes his visit will help establish a tradition of regular contacts and meetings between heads of government;

  • The conference notes with satisfaction that India and Pakistan have reached agreement on outstanding issues with regard to the TAPI pipeline;

  • The conference stresses the need for India and Pakistan to have a regular dialogue on Afghanistan with the common objective of ensuring peace, security and progress in the region;

  • The conference appreciates the common positions adopted by both countries at international forums and considers that the continuation and intensification of such cooperation will be of mutual benefit;

  • Noting with regret the continuation of a painfully restrictive visa regime between the two countries, the conference urges that immediate measures be taken to facilitate people to people contact.

Water Security

The conference notes that:

  • The IWT has served its purpose and stood the test of time and India and Pakistan must continue to work within the framework of the IWT;

  • Meetings of the Indus Water Commission should be held more frequently than the one mandatory meeting annually, so as to allow for closer cooperation and timely sharing of information;

  • India and Pakistan should build confidence and trust between them by commissioning joint studies – in accordance with the highest international standards – on issues of mutual concern, such as sedimentation, climate change, melting of glaciers, and drawdown of aquifers;

  • India and Pakistan should jointly host regular conferences on water issues of concern to both countries;

  • The conference also notes that in accordance with current international law, trans-boundary environmental harm should be recognized as a concern for all parties.

Terrorism

  • Both countries must establish mechanisms for real and effective cooperation to handle terrorist activities, which have an impact on bilateral relations;

  • Acts of violence must be investigated impartially and professionally before reaching a conclusion regarding their nature, perpetrators and origin;

  • Restraint should be exercised by the two governments as well as by the media in the wake of such acts of violence;

  • It is incumbent on both states to ensure justice for victims of terrorism or crime, irrespective of where they have taken place;

  • All formal and informal government channels should be used more effectively to share information on a real time basis on incidents of terrorism.

Jammu and Kashmir

Noting that Jammu and Kashmir is a complex issue, the conference stresses that:

  • It requires the direct involvement and attention of the heads of government;
  • The existing CBM regime in J&K should be implemented in letter and spirit, and should be expanded;
  • The existing roadblocks in cross-LoC trade and travel (including banking and telecommunications, as well as direct dialing facilities) should be removed;

  • More trade corridors should be opened for trade between the two sides of J&K with increased trade timing and with no restriction on the number of trucks;

  • The two governments may consider the possibility of setting up a joint commission on watershed management and other related environmental and disaster management issues;

  • Both governments should examine the possibility of setting up joint special economic zones in Jammu and Kashmir which would straddle across the two sides;

  • Regular meetings between the Chambers of Commerce and traders of both sides should be encouraged and facilitated;

Media

It is imperative that people of both countries benefit from impartial and informed reporting of news that helps them towards greater understanding of each other and with the sentiments prevailing in the other country. To facilitate this, the following measures are vital:

  • Multiple-entry visas should be made available to journalists from both countries without city restrictions and police reporting;

  • Both India and Pakistan should allow easy access of news channels to audiences in the other country by providing each other with landing rights;

  • There should be no limit on the number of correspondents that accredited media organizations are allowed to post in each other’s country;

  • Both countries should allow uplink facility to channels from the other country to facilitate live interviews and coverage;

  • Each country should provide visas that would enable journalists and mass communication students to avail of media training and education that is available in the other country;

  • Governments should facilitate visas for long-term attachments for journalists to work in media organisations in the other country.

Indian Delegates

Pakistani Delegates