Senior track-II interlocutors have urged Pakistani and Indian governments to take forward the bilateral discussions in recent years for a framework to resolve the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
The appeal was made by senior parliamentarians, former diplomats and civil society activists from India and Pakistan who met in Bangkok for the 18th round of the Chaophraya Dialogue last week to discuss the state of bilateral relations, the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, terrorism and extremism, bilateral connectivity, the conflict in Afghanistan, and the shared challenge of climate change. At the end of the two-and-a-half day dialogue, participants arrived at the following joint communiqué.
The participants stressed the need to devise procedures to facilitate transportation, trade, travel and tourism across the Line of Control (LoC). This had to be accompanied by the development of infrastructure, banking facilities and communication to promote such cooperation, the joint statement added.
The participants recognised that the provision of such facilities across the LoC would create an atmosphere for peace, progress and prosperity for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
They noted with satisfaction the recent meeting between the two prime ministers in Lahore, and expressed the hope that this would lead to revival of a robust bilateral relationship. The forthcoming Nuclear Security Summit in Washington D.C. provides another opportunity for the two Prime Ministers to meet again.
“The recent meeting between the Indian External Affairs Minister and the Pakistani Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs in Nepal is also a welcome step towards regular interaction between the two countries,” the statement added.
The forthcoming SAARC Summit in Pakistan should be used as an important platform for the leadership of the two countries to look at ways and means to give impetus to the bilateral dialogue process, they added.
On terrorism, the participants noted the mature and constructive response of the governments of India and Pakistan to the Pathankot terrorist attack of January 2. They welcomed the First Information Report (FIR) filed in Pakistan, the detention of some of those believed to be responsible, the formation of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in Pakistan, and the announcement that the team will be arriving in India on March 27.
“They urged both governments to facilitate the successful process of investigation and trial. They hoped that both sides could build on the positive momentum witnessed post-Pathankot, and continue to cooperate to counter the common threat posed by terrorism,” the communiqué added.
The participants welcomed the fact that the two National Security Advisors (NSAs) were actively engaged with each other on the issue of terrorism, and hoped that this could translate into tangible intelligence sharing in the future.
They took note of the challenges that violent extremism presents on both sides of the border and urged the two governments to find ways of tackling this menace.
On Afghanistan peace process, the participants reiterated their strong support for peace and stability in Afghanistan, and expressed their support for reconciliation efforts in this regard.
“They urged their governments to independently and jointly promote these shared objectives. They urged support from regional and international actors to strengthen the National Unity Government and enhance the level of economic assistance provided to Afghanistan. They underscored the importance of economic development in Afghanistan, and the role Afghanistan can play as a hub for trade, energy and communication corridors between Central and South Asia. In this context they welcomed the signing of the TAPI and CASA-1000 projects,” the statement said.