A large media contingent on Friday questioned the delegation of Indian MPs on “Pakistan bashing” in India and were assured that on the contrary, there was a constituency for peace.
Over 50 Parliamentarians from Pakistan and 13 MPs from India took part in the fifth round of the dialogue facilitated by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT). A joint statement was issued urging the two governments to sustain the resumed dialogue between the two countries, recognizing, at the same time, the need for serious action on issues of concern for reinforcing the continuity of the dialogue process.
The people’s representatives from both sides asked the two governments to engage with each other on all issues, including issues relating to Jammu and Kashmir, through dialogue. They expressed the hope that the two Prime Ministers meet in New York to keep open doors for peace and good relations between Pakistan and India.
At a press conference on the conclusion of the two-day Parliamentarians’ dialogue, leader of the Indian delegation Mani Shankar Aiyer said that no one was in favour of Pakistan bashing in India though people who responded to these statements, were dubbed “Pakistan agents”. He said he was not in favour of India or Pakistan bashing. Responding to questions Shah Mehmood Qureshi from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf said that the Indian MPs were going back with a clear message that India bashing is no longer fashionable in Pakistan politics.
BJP MP Kirti Azad said that there should be an atmosphere conducive for talks and each time there was talk of peace some incident disrupted the process. “We want friendship but there are some hidden forces which do not want this friendship,” he said. MPs from both sides called for the media to play a more responsible role. Mr. Azad joked that “We enjoy Pakistan bashing on the cricket field.” On a more serious note he said the Pakistan government will have to apprehend the terror culprits and if jawans were being killed on the line of control, it would be a difficult situation. To a question on the recent speech by Narendra Modi, Mr. Azad said he was only referring to issues that were raised often about the factors which were against friendship between the two nations.
Mr. Aiyer also pointed to the forces that were hostile to friendship between the two countries but said every single party in India hopes for good relations with Pakistan. He said that there was no desire on the part of responsible Indians to bash Pakistan but there were serious concerns which had to be addressed. Even in Pakistan the National Assembly had passed a resolution on the Line of Control tensions and the Indian Parliament too did a similar thing. He also said the media was critical in Pakistan about the Pakistan government and it was no longer a monopoly of the Indians. “Get used to democracy… let us not involve ourselves in the blame game,” he urged.
On the issue of whether there was a constituency for peace in India, Mr. Aiyer said the constituency for peace has widened in Pakistan but there is also a constituency for war which is smaller but well armed. In India the constituency for peace has not widened as much as in Pakistan but since in Pakistan it was smaller to begin with, there is now equilibrium in both countries for peace and things should move forward.
While Mr. Qureshi said in Pakistan there was no desire for war and though there is a large constituency for peace, there is a growing frustration on both sides since the pace of talks is not in step with the desires of the people. The joint statement also urged India and Pakistan to examine issues of climate change and environment impact assessment, improving bilateral trade, activating gas supplies to Pakistan from India and power trading, and touched on issues such as granting MFN status to India, opening bank branches of either country in the other to facilitate trade exchanges, improving the visa regime and expanding existing agreements on handling of humanitarian issues.