Indo-Pak civil society-led dialogue held in Islamabad, first after Pulwama

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Islamabad/New Delhi, July 13 (IANS) Improving cross-border connectivity and trade, people-to-people exchanges and educational collaboration were among the subjects discussed at the two-day civil society-led Track-II dialogue between India and Pakistan in Islamabad, the first such initiative after the Pulwama terror attack that soured relations between the two neighbouring countries.

The dialogue, titled ‘Beyond Politics and Polemics New Beginning on a Difficult Trail’, has been convened by the Islamabad-based Regional Peace Institute (RPI).

According to media reports, six delegates from India are participating in the dialogue that concludes on Saturday.

“There is no official-level representation from India. It is a purely a civil society-led initiative,” a source told IANS here.

Raoof Hasan, founder of the Regional Peace Institute, was quoted as saying: “Track-II diplomacy is the first step to improve relations between the governments of both the countries,” and added that the main objective of the talks was to bring the youth of the two countries towards peace.

Hasan also tweeted: “Here we are finally trying to untangle the tricky knot! It is always the scent of possibilities that sustains my hope for the future. Let’s do a toast to a tomorrow of peace and reconciliation.”

Pakistan’s Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Andleeb Abbas, addressing the talk on Saturday, stressed on greater people to people contacts between the two neighbours to normalise the bilateral relationship.

Abbasi said the 770 million youth on both sides of the border are a “ray of hope” and by bringing them together a paradigm shift can be brought in the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

She also said that great trade potential exists between the two nations which needs to be explored.

Abbasi said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has consistently been giving the message of peace to India, adding that war is not a solution to any problem and conflicts can only be resolved through peace and negotiations.

The second round of the dialogue will be held in New Delhi in September this year.

The theme of the first session was ‘With young leading the charge — discovering new paths for reconciliation & progress’, while the second session was on ‘Moving to overcome challenges — formulating a vision of the future’.

Another session was themed ‘Commonality of stakes — Connectivity as the gateway to development.’

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood is slated to address the participants of the dialogue later on Saturday, media reports said.

The dialogue comes ahead of a meeting on Sunday between the officials of both sides at Wagah on the Kartarpur corridor.

–IANS

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