MUMBAI: The journalists of India and Pakistan have sought removal of barriers in communication and travel to boost communication that can help the peace process.
On a seven day trip to Pakistan, a 14-member delegation of journalists from The Press Club of Mumbai, along with their host, Karachi Press Club met key officials in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore and demanded that the government help the media to of the two countries to travel with ease.
Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani assured the journalists last week that he would recommend to the federal government to lift the ban imposed by India and Pakistan to restrict the stationing of journalists in the two countries.
“The ceiling of only two accredited journalists for permanent station in the capitals of either country is irrational and restrictive considering the demand for news by the people of both countries. The quota system should be removed and all mainline publications and TV and other digital media should be allowed representatives to be stationed in both New Delhi and Islamabad,” the journalists said in a joint resolution.
The journalists said that the travel restrictions imposed on journalists has made comprehensive and truthful reporting impossible. Therefore, journalists of both sides should be allowed unrestricted access to all parts of the two countries as long as it is in pursuit of media coverage.
Journalists have also proposed that the governments of both the companies allowed distribution of news and entertainment channels from either country to the other side of border and also remove the restriction on circulation of physical copies of newspapers and magazines from the other country.
Besides improving media communication between both sides, the two press clubs also demanded that travel restrictions and deliberate curbs for general public should be relaxed as soon as possible.
“Encouraging trade between the two countries that is currently stagnating at around $3 billion. This can be done by mutually removing vexatious and deliberate non-tariff restrictions, and opening up more border points (currently only Wagah exisits) for movement of goods and people,” the resolution said.
The press clubs have decided to set up a joint committee that will lobby both governments and bring in senior members of the profession and civil society of Pakistan and India to convince the two sides to ease restrictions and encourage people-to-people contact.