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Indian, Pakistani MPs keen to kick-start talks

Indian, Pakistani MPs keen to kick-start talks

New Delhi: Parliamentarians from India and Pakistan Friday agreed on initiating a "talk about talk" process to set the stage for resumption of formal dialogue between the two countries, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said.

As many as 12 modes were discussed in the sixth round of the Pakistan-India Parliamentarians Dialogue with a view to facilitating the restoration of bilateral talks between the two neighbours.

Despite the downslide in bilateral relations due to the heat on the India-Pakistan border and Pakistan raking up the Kashmir issue, there was hope in the 26-member Indian delegation for Track-I diplomacy gaining traction due to the efforts being made at the Track-II level.

"Tension has often marked the India-Pakistan relationship but we have always succeeded in getting a dialogue going," Aiyar told IANS.

"In the present circumstances at the border, we hope that the efforts we (the parliamentarians from either side) are making to remove tension would help in restoring the official dialogue," he added.

In a joint statement, the two sides agreed to impress upon their respective governments the need to create an enabling environment for a government-to-government dialogue, signalling a sense of urgency to resume bilateral talks.

"We are all for talks and for the peace process to start again," said Awais Khan Leghari, who co-chaired the dialogue to represent the 12-member delegation from Pakistan's National Assembly and the Senate.

"I hope there is more sense that prevails within India and the government moves towards resumption of talks."

In a statement released after closed-door bilateral deliberations that lasted for two days, the parliamentarians reposed their faith in dialogue while rejecting armed conflict as a way to move forward.

Restraint in the use of force and stable peace along the Line of Control or across the international border must precede the effort to make environment conducive to peace talks, the statement said.

Normal diplomatic channels, bipartisan parliamentary process, back-channel dialogue were deemed as enablers for making bilateralism more result-oriented.

Setting a stage for a burgeoning thaw in the people-to-people diplomacy, the joint statement sought to revive bilateral talks through increased exchanges in sports, culture, youth fora, and digital media.

The two sides expressed immense confidence in parallel diplomacy, urging the mainstream media on both sides to end the projection of content that stereotypes false notions about peoples across either border and misrepresents ground reality.

On the Indian side, it was a multi-party representation with three members from the governing Bharatiya Janata Party, 12 from the Congress, and 11 from other regional and national parties.

Refraining to make a comment on the thin attendance of the MPs from the governing party, Leghari said he would like to rather count on those who were present.

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