Need relaxed visa regime: Pak media delegation
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The need for a more relaxed visa regime and for encouraging people-to-people contact were some of the suggestions made at the fifth Panj Darya Media Conference held on Wednesday at the Chandigarh Press Club.
A delegation of 32 media persons from the Lahore Press Club arrived in the city on Wednesday for the conference. Among the delegation were three women journalists. The theme of the conference was improving the relations between India and Pakistan.
For the first time, the reporters have been given visas for six cities. Apart from Chandigarh they will be visiting Shimla, Delhi, Agra and Ajmer.
The president of the Lahore Press Club, Arshad Ansari, while addressing the gathering at the conference, stated that the visas given to journalists of India and Pakistan should not be city-specific. Instead, the journalists should be allowed to visit any part of the country. "Lahore has no terrorism as is the image, nor do other prominent cities. It is in remote tribal areas that there are some problems," he said.
Ansari stressed that there should be more exchange programmes involving the parliamentarians as well as editors so that relations between the countries get a boost.
The president of Chandigarh Press Club Sukhbir Bajwa stated that the visa hurdle should be removed. There should be a special visa for reporters belonging to Punjab on both sides. He emphasized on exchange programmes for students so that the misconceptions in their minds can be removed.
A large number of speakers from both sides stressed on the need for peaceful relations that would prove beneficial for both the countries. Senior journalist Gobind Thukral, while talking about the killings of soldiers at the LOC, said that incidents like these are given too much importance.
Thukral said, "Due to ceasefire at LOC 1,500 - 2,000 lives are saved every year. However, even when one such incident happens it is given a lot of importance and the peace process gets derailed. There is a need for having better trade relations. The roadblock of national chauvinism should be removed."
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