Afghanistan seeks comprehensive agreements with Pakistan on media, culture and tourism and has similar accords with other neighbouring countries, an Afghan diplomat said on Friday.
The Afghan government proposed the agreements last year and submitted drafts to Pakistani authorities. A response is still awaited, Cultural Attaché at the Afghan Embassy Shams Zardasht told The Express Tribune in an interview.
Zardasht said that Afghanistan has similar agreements with India too. Pakistani officials have expressed their commitment to strike the accords, he said, adding that Afghanistan has handed over three drafts of the proposed agreements.
The Afghan cultural attaché reiterated his quest for giving landing rights to Afghan cable TV channels in Pakistan. A Pakistani official in Islamabad confirmed Afghanistan’s quest for the agreements but did not clarify why Pakistan was delaying matters. He, however, said that after the information minister was changed and some ministries devolved, some approvals have been delayed.
The proposed agreements, drafts of which were available to The Express Tribune, said there should be an exchange programme for independent journalists. The accord proposes ‘to develop cooperation and technical assistance in television, news agencies and print media sectors’.
It further says that ‘Radio and Television of Afghanistan and Pakistan Television shall cooperate in the exchange of technical assistance, expertise and audio-visual material.
It also wants the Associated Press of Pakistan and Bakhtar News Agency of Afghanistan to share English news.
Afghanistan has recommended that joint cultural exhibitions in cinema, arts, paintings and handicrafts be held.
Both countries will help each other in preserving historical monuments and prevent smuggling of historical and cultural artefacts.
A working group is also proposed to be formed to ensure implementation of the agreements.
The draft on tourism says that there should be a simpler procedure for Pakistani citizens to visit Afghanistan, and vice versa.
It has been proposed that Afghanistan shall designate the tourism authority of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, and Pakistan will designate the Ministry of Tourism as their executing agency to be responsible for all matters relating to the implementation of the agreement.
The two sides will facilitate the import and export of materials and documents for publicity including tourism information.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 29th, 2012.