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Pakistan-India Dialogue on Governance and Democracy

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New Delhi :(APS)MARCH 8,2016-The third round of Pakistan-India Legislators and Public Officials Dialogue on Sharing of Experiences on Governance and Democracy began in New Delhi, India, on March 08, 2016 to share experiences and perceptions of the two countries on Role of Media in India-Pakistan Relations and on Policing System in India and Pakistan.

The Dialogue brought together Members of Parliament and State/Provincial Legislatures from Pakistan and India, practitioners and subject-experts from the two countries who raised key issues and reform ideas covering both themes.

At the outset, participants appreciated the facilitation of the Dialogue to allow sharing of perspectives on common issues. The opportunity for interaction in a phase in which the two Governments have not yet resumed the Secretaries-level Dialogue, made this all the more important.

All Participants extolled the valuable role of Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar, MP, Rajya Sabha, in promoting dialogue and peace between India and Pakistan through the on-going process, and in his diverse and distinguished capacities as a diplomat, a veteran Parliamentarian, a public intellectual and a broadcaster.

Dialogue participants also welcomed the recent high-level sharing of intelligence information by Pakistan with India to alert the Indian Government against potential terrorist activities. They hoped that this becomes the first of a series of confidence-building measures to build trust and goodwill, and eliminating terrorism.

Participants lauded the efforts of PILDAT, in partnership with Lokniti-CSDS, in facilitating the exchange of good practices and stressed that the exchange must be continued and broadened to include more areas of governance and democracy.

Role of Media in India-Pakistan Relations

Participants acknowledged, at the outset, that news media’s growth has become exponential and that media are one of the several vital determinant factors in shaping bilateral relations between Pakistan and India.

While it was recognised that the news media have to shine a spotlight on reality, the requirements of objective and professional reporting should uphold the core values and cardinal principles of journalism.

Members emphasised that while all media in both countries cannot be painted with the same brush, there is a tendency in a few to be shrill and even jingoistic. This is deplorable and has to be addressed.

Participants underscored that both news media and academic centres focusing on media studies should be encouraged to conduct sustained research on portrayal of the other country by the news media in each country and that research findings should be published and broadcast to inform the public.

It was noted with regret that, often, fringe elements are wrongly given more space than warranted in the media of the two countries. More often than not, news media’s unquestioning reflection of their own Government’s foreign and defence policies stance hampers the expression of independent perspectives.

Lack of access for media to locations in the other country and obstacles in obtaining visas for journalists of both countries were highlighted as key issues hampering an informed portrayal of each country. Participants urged both India and Pakistan to put in place policies ensuring ease of access, travel and reporting by journalists from both countries. Specific proposals included visa-free access without city restrictions and for setting up of media lounges at Pakistan-India border posts to facilitate regular interaction and engagement between Pakistani and Indian media representatives without the need to obtain visas.

Lamenting the negligible progress on agreed Codes of Conduct for South Asian media despite the lapse of two decades, experts underscored the centrality of initiation and sustaining of regular media dialogue between Pakistan and India, involving, among others, media associations of the two countries. Such a dialogue’s pre-set objective should be to develop a Joint Code of Conduct on reporting about the two countries, starting from refraining to refer to the other as the “enemy” State. In this regard, suggestions were also made to eliminate the element of aggressive postures from the daily parade at the Wahga-Attari border.

Indian and Pakistani participants highlighted that the phenomenal growth in new digital media has enormous positive potential for engagement between Pakistani and Indian citizens and may actually make many existing restrictions redundant.

The two sides agreed that joint initiatives are needed in both conventional mainstream media and social media by individuals and enterprises of the two countries to promote an entirely new collaborative, cooperative mindset both within the media and among media audiences in the two countries. This new shared approach to reporting the news and making comments could engender an unprecedented improvement in mutual perceptions and bilateral relations. In this regard, it was suggested that the prospects of a jointly owned India-Pakistan TV channel, possibly located in Dubai, might be further pursued

Policing System in India and Pakistan

Participants of the Dialogue lamented the continuing negative image stigmatising Police in both countries. The two sides agreed that the first step towards reforming police system is to acknowledge the critical importance of Policing and provide due and fair credit to Police.

Delegates agreed that sharing of experiences on Policing in the two countries highlighted the vast avenues of learning from each other in this critical sector.

While comparing effective practices in effective policing in Pakistan and India, participants believed that lack of uniform police laws across States in India and Provinces in Pakistan poses a big challenge for the two countries.

In sharing reform proposals, experts agreed that the Indian Supreme Court’s directives on operational autonomy and accountability of the Police and Pakistan’s Police Order, 2002, are similar in promoting democratic, community-oriented, professional and accountable policing and need to be implemented.

Experts believed that Police Station reform and revamping should be at the heart of improving the system of Policing in the two countries.

Participants underscored the urgent need for reforms to promote fair, professionally-led, adequately resourced and accountable Police across Indian States and Pakistan’s Provinces.

Delegates agreed that Policing in the two countries required to benefit effectively from the use of new technologies, better training and capability-based promotion system in the Police; modernize static and counter intuitive stop and search practices and introduce discipline matrix to reduce discretion of the supervisory police officers and promote fairness in internal police disciplinary proceedings.

Both India and Pakistan need to reduce disconnect existing amongst the actors of the criminal justice system of the two countries by introducing criminal justice coordination committees at the district levels.

Members stressed on the requirement of State support in terms of effective legislation and its implementation, critical financial support and promoting collaboration amongst various law enforcement agencies/departments keeping in view complex and challenging policing environment in the two countries.

Participants agreed that there is ample scope for effective police leadership, independent of the role of politicians in policing, can be complementary to the use of state support in building police capacity.

The Pakistani Delegation, joining the Dialogue in New Delhi, included (in alphabetical order by first Name in the sequence of Members of Senate, National Assembly, Provincial Assemblies and Experts) Senator Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Abdul Qayyum, (Punjab; Pakistan Muslim League — Nawaz – PML-N); Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, (Balochistan; National Party – NP); Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak, (KP; Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf – PTI); Senator Saud Majeed, (Punjab, PML-N); Mr. Muhammad Afzal Khan, MNA, (NA-82 Faisalabad-VIII, Punjab, PML-N); Parliamentary Secretary for Finance; Ms. Munaza Hassan, MNA (NA-306, Women Punjab-XXXIV, PTI); Mr. Shehryar Afridi, MNA, (NA-14, Kohat, KP, PTI), Mr. Asad Qaisar, MPA, (PK-35 Swabi-V, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, PTI) Speaker Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; Ms. Mahtab Akbar Rashdi, MPA, (RSW-156, Sindh, Pakistan Muslim League — Functional — PML-F); Mian Mehmood-ur- Rashid, MPA, (PP-151 (Lahore-XV), Punjab, PTI), Leader of Opposition, Provincial Assembly of the Punjab; Dr. Najma Afzal Khan, MPA, (RSW-320, Punjab, PML-N); Ms. Arifa Noor, Resident Editor-Islamabad, Dawn Newspaper; Senator (Retd.) Javed Jabbar, Former Federal Information Minister, Member, Senate Forum for Policy Research; Mr. Muhammad Ali Nekokara, Former SSP, Pakistan Police; Dr. Muhammad Shoaib Suddle, Former IG Police, Sindh & Balochistan, Pakistan; Mr. Mujeeb-ur-Rahman Shami, Editor-in-Chief Daily Pakistan; President, Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) and Mr. Saleem Safi, Television Anchor and Columnist, Geo TV.

With Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar MP, Rajya Sabha Indian National Congress (INC), in the Chair, the Indian delegation joining the Dialogue included (in alphabetical order by first Name in the following sequence) from Mr. Pavan K. Varma MP, Rajya Sabha Janata Dal (United)-JD (U), Bihar and Mr. Vijay Jawaharlal Darda, MP, Rajya Sabha, INC, Maharashtra; from the Delhi Legislative Assembly, Mr. Madan Lal; Member Legislative Assembly (MLA), Kasturba Nagar, Delhi, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP); Mr. Saurabh Bhardwaj MLA Greater Kailash, Delhi Aam AAP and Mr. Somnath Bharti, MLA, Malviya Nagar, Delhi, AAP. Participants and experts also included Mr. Ashutosh, Spokesperson Aam Admi Party (AAP); Mr. A. S. Dulat, Member, National Security Advisory Board, Former Special Director, Intelligence Bureau, Former Secretary, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW); Mr. A. S. Panneerselvam, Readers’ Editor, The Hindu; Ms. Devyani Srivastava Senior Program Office, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative; Mr. K. P. Nayar, Senior Journalist and Consulting Editor, The Telegraph; Dr. K. S. Subramanian, Former Senior Civil Servant and Member of the Indian Police Force; Dr. Kiran Bedi, Former Officer, Indian Police Service; Mr. Sidharth Bhatia, Founding Editor, The Wire; Ms. Smita Gupta, Senior Journalist, The Hindu; Mr. Sunit Tandon, Former Director, Indian Institute of Mass Communication Former CEO, Lok Sabha TV; Ms. Vandana Seth, Research Scholar and Mr. Ved Marwah, Honorary Research Professor, Centre for Policy Research, Delhi, Former Governor, Manipur, Mizoram and Jharkhand, and Former Commissioner of Police, Delhi.

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