Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Background Note: India-Pakistan Dialogue

Common Interests and a Common Future: Exploring India-Pakistan Partnership

India and Pakistan form the pivot of South Asia region and are increasingly playing a decisive role in global affairs. However, over the past six decades, gruelling poverty, mis-governance, political manipulation of religion, gender disparities and caste and ethnic conflicts have warped and wounded daily life of millions in both the countries. Economic advancement has been blocked, and access to basic rights like health, universal education and employment remains unacceptably limited to those most in need. Elsewhere in the world conflicts have been encouragingly and bravely addressed, yet conflicts in of South Asia remain unresolved.
The history of India- Pakistan relations has led to a trust deficit between the two countries. However, in recent years there is growing number of citizen initiatives and exchanges taking place between India and Pakistan, among people involved in health, education, trade and business. Despite some scepticism, all these initiatives have helped in making incremental progress towards normalising Indo- Pak relations.These initiatives are helping to strengthen cooperation at people to people and institutional level in the areas of mutual interest
Recently India-Pakistan revived the Joint Commission. It has mandate to discuss 8 subjects – Agriculture, Education, Environment, Health, Information, IT & Telecom, Science & Technology, and Tourism. This provides scope for a wide cooperation between government as well as non-governmental Institutions/organizations.
To take advantage of these new openings, the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR) and the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) are jointly starting a one year pilot project. The project hopes to bring representatives of middle schools and Urban Environmental groups from Karachi, Mumbai, Lahore and Amritsar to share concerns, challenges and best practice experiments. It is hoped that through the discussions and exchange of ideas, the participants will be able to evolve some ideas that can be implemented by them in their respective cities. It is also hoped that the schools and environmental groups would form their networks at the end of the year.
There would be three India Pakistan roundtable dialogues during the year in Mumbai, Lahore and Amritsar.
The project hopes to bring together educationists, and environmental experts and professionals,and draw from their experience and expertise to evolve new ideas and recommendations. This project is replicable on a larger scale that can involve larger institutional collaborations between India and Pakistan. The multiplier effects of such partnerships can be very diverse and productive.
The project roundtable dialogues would focus on three major themes in education and urban environment protection.The deliberation will focus on issues of common concerns, challenges and exploring new opportunities that have increased relevance for both the countries
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