The 14th round of the Chao Phraya Dialogue, which focused on the significance of the new government in New Delhi, was organised by the Jinnah Institute (JI) and the Australia India Institute (AII) in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Key opinion makers from India and Pakistan, including parliamentarians, former diplomats, former military officers and policy experts met from June 20-21 to discuss the opportunities the newly elected Indian government creates for Indo-Pak relations, particularly in trade and economic integration.
Special focus was given to the ongoing election in Afghanistan and the prospects for peace and security in the region following Isaf’s drawdown towards the end of 2014.
Pakistani participants included former ambassadors Sherry Rehman, Aziz Ahmad Khan, Najmuddin Shaikh and Shahid Malik, as well as Air Vice Marshal (retd) Shahzad Chaudhry and policy expert Dr Moeed Yusuf, among others. The Indian delegation included AII’s director Prof Amitabh Mattoo, Lok Sabha member Baijayant “Jay” Panda, former ambassadors Hardeep Singh Puri and Vivek Katju, former military officers Lt Gen (retd) Ravi Sawhney and Lt Gen (retd) Ata Hasnain, as well as former RAW chief A S Dulat, among others.
The participants welcomed the May 27 meeting between the prime ministers of India and Pakistan in New Delhi and the decision to task the foreign secretaries with finding ways to move the bilateral relationship forward.
As part of the revitalisation of bilateral relations, they urged the two governments to liberalise the visa regime for students, academics and journalists, in particular for correspondents to be stationed in each other’s capitals.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2014.