‘Composite Dialogue should lead to further agreements'

Parliamentarians from India and Pakistan on Friday jointly called for consolidating the outcome of the Composite Dialogue, which has been going on for the last 14 years, into further agreements.

They identified people-to-people contacts as the most important confidence building measure (CBM) at the end of their second interaction this year.

They decided to take up the issue of energy security and, in particular, that of the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, whose fate is uncertain because of India's reluctance to join the project. Urging their governments to follow suit in deliberating on the pipeline, the parliamentarians said that economic ties should be boosted by removing the restrictions and considering a preferential duty regime.

The parliamentarians, who included influential as well as emerging leaders from a wide political spectrum, asked their governments to resolve outstanding issues that were being discussed for well over a decade.

But there have been several hiccups in the dialogue process, the last one caused by the Mumbai attacks in 2008. In this respect a joint statement issued on Friday at the end of the interaction noted and endorsed Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Khar's statement that the dialogue should be “uninterrupted and uninterruptible”.

On consolidating the previous rounds of dialogue, the joint statement urged both the governments to address all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek as also the challenge of terror, including the follow-up of 26/11.

As there are widespread concerns in Pakistan about the flow of water during sowing season and timely sharing of information in the Indus Basin, the parliamentarians urged both the governments to address such concerns within the framework of the Indus Waters Treaty 1960.

The parliamentarians felt that government should introduce “trusted visitors' programmes” in which elected representatives, the elderly, accredited journalists, etc. could be given multiple entry, no-city restrictions visas valid for 10 years. International roaming facility on mobile telephony should be available bilaterally and both the countries connected via fibre-optic link.

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