NA Foreign Affairs Committee conducts pubic hearing on ‘Present and Future of Pak-India Relations’

Parliament has to reclaim its space on foreign policy

ISLAMABAD    -    The National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs yesterday conducted a pubic hearing on the ‘Present and Future of Pak-India Relations’.
Chairing the Public Hearing, MNA Mohsin Dawar asserted that Parliament has to reclaim its space on foreign policy ceded to non-elected officials.
He added that all matters of domestic and foreign policy shouldn’t be seen only through the prism of security and stressed meaningful internal dialogue on the future engagements with India.
Being the first in a series of potential public hearings of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, the session would serve as prelude to sustained engagements with the civil society, academia, think tanks, media and other relevant stakeholders on matters of foreign policy.
The Public Hearing examined the evolving regional geopolitical dimensions, political, economic and legal underpinnings in Pak-India relations, track II diplomacy and confidence building measures as low hanging fruits in bilateral relations. 
The experts and participants underlined the need for reviving and promoting people to people contacts and trade relations despite the inherent tensions in bilateral relations.
The experts cited that despite tensions China and India’s trade continue to expand while Pakistan-India trade has completely halted. 
One of the experts, reflecting on Pakistan’s internal political instability and state’s declining capacity, stated that India has no incentive to engage with a failing state. Given India’s sustained rapid economic growth and emergence as economic super power, the country feels it is on a different league. The panelists also regretted that Kashmir has been deprioritized in Pakistan’s policy priorities.
The participants highlighted that both Pakistan and India put stringent preconditions for any dialogue including Pakistan’s demand to reverse India’s unilateral decision to reverse the status of Indian Occupied Kashmir and India’s insistence on prevention of cross-border terrorism.
The panelists highlighted that the Parliament should be the nucleus of the decisions pertaining to Pakistan’s relations with India and other neighbors. 
The keynote speakers included Chairman Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs MNA Mohsin Dawar, MNA Ramesh Kumar, Former Senator Afrasiab Khattak, Former Diplomat Ashraf Jahangir Qazi, Journalists Zahid Hussain and Munizae Jahangir, Professor Salma Malik, Lawyer Jamal Aziz and Director ISSI Muhammad Arshad. Members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Civil Society and students participated in the Public Hearing at Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services.

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