CHAITANYA MARPAKWAR Mumbai

Indian and Pakistani journalists came together last week in Mumbai as part of the Karachi week celebrations organized by the Mumbai press club.

On a visit to India, the Pakistani media delegation interacte

d with people from across the spectrum exchanging ideas and looking for solutions for promoting peace in the subcontinent.

Karamat Ali, noted Indo- Pak peace activist and executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research was one of the most prominent faces of the delegation.

Speaking to FPJ about the tense relations that exist between the two countries and the role of the media in helping stabilize relations, Ali called for a landmark change in the existing visa regime between the two troubled neighbours.

” The current visa regime is uncivilized and inhuman.

Unless it is modified we can never expect relations between the two neighbours to reach normalcy.

Both our countries give immediate visas to westerners but when it comes to neighbours, many of whom have roots and families across the border, it becomes a painstaking exercise,” Ali pointed out.

” There is no enmity between the people of the two countries and that needs to be reflected in the visa regime. If people are allowed easy access across the border, that could translate into economic cooperation.” He said, ” There is need for increased people to people contact. Only then can there be better understanding and cooperation between people which will eventually lead to larger peace between India and Pakistan.” Ali also suggested starting ferry services between Mumbai and Karachi to enable people on both sides to travel at affordable costs.

alt39 Demilitarise the border regionalt39 Ali said that the two south Asian countries canalt39t afford to carry on hostilities.

” Trade and investment must receive a boost. The two nations canalt39t remain enemies forever and for that there is an immediate need to demilitarize the border region and humanize our relationship rather than militarizing it,” Ali, who has been visiting Mumbai every three- four years since 1987, said.

alt39 Language of hate in the media must ceasealt39 Ali said that the use of hate language in the media about the two countries must stop immediately.

” The relationship between the two countries canalt39t be based on hatred and ignorance.

There is hatred based on misconceptions caused by the communication gap between the people of the region. Taking advantage of this communication gap, negative propaganda is being orchestrated by extremist elements,” Ali said.

” The media is the vehicle that disseminates information from different spheres of life. Ordinary people on both sides donalt39t have their own sources of information.

They form an opinion about each other on the basis of what the media tells them. The media plays the most crucial role in defining the Indo- Pak relationship at the common mans level,” the veteran peace- activist said.

T he current visa regime is uncivilized and inhuman. Unless it is modified we can never expect relations between the two neighbours to reach normalcy. Both our countries give immediate visas to westerners but when it comes to neighbours, many of whom have roots and families across the border, it becomes a painstaking exercise, ‘KARAMAT ALI, executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research

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