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Track-two diplomacy can pave the way for peace

It is not very often that veteran lawmakers and technocrats from Pakistan and India are found rubbing shoulders and vigorously debating better governance and a peaceful way forward for the nuclear neighbours. The dialogue on governance in Dubai last week, organised by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), and attended by more than a dozen parliamentarians, captains of the media and technocrats from both sides, must therefore be applauded for its attempt to forge peaceful relations and build bridges at a time when official bilateral talks between India and Pakistan are virtually at a standstill over a host of issues – ranging from terror attacks and sharing of water resources to the perennial problem of Kashmir. Freelance diplomacy of course has its pitfalls and can appear to run contrary to the prevailing bilateral mood of the time – the discussions over “Technology for Better Governance” certainly seem a long way off the rhetoric of mutual suspicion that media from both nations routinely churn out. But in an era of unconventional stand-offs and conflicts, nations need to search for unconventional solutions. It is surely praiseworthy when concerned citizens take proactive action to keep robust relations alive rather than fuelling further tension and fomenting hatred. Such gatherings also afford respective governments great opportunities to informally float confidence-building measures, explore bold compromises that cannot be pursued publicly or simply gauge the effectiveness of existing policies. It is for these reasons that the ongoing series of dialogues – this was the 11th such meeting between Indian and Pakistani stakeholders – needs to be more than a feel-good gathering of like-minded individuals from both sides. When backed up by fruitful action, such meetings not only add momentum to sustain peaceful cooperation between the two countries at an informal level, but also highlight the shared problems and challenges facing both that can be resolved by closer collaboration. It is also appropriate that the dialogue was hosted in Dubai. The emirate and the UAE not only exemplify a society where multiple nationalities and faiths coexist in peace and harmony, but also showcase the nation’s role as a pivotal peacemaker and facilitator of friendly dialogue between Pakistan and India. At both the government and the track-two level, therefore, the need for responsible dialogue and measures to ease tensions between India and Pakistan has never been more acute than now. More such dialogue must be encouraged and both sides must work towards their commitment to a peaceful and secure future not only for their own people but also for the wider subcontinent. –(Courtesy–Gulf News)

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