PM responds to Modi’s letter

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-Thanks Narendra Modi for conveying greetings on Pakistan Day
-Suggests talks to resolve long-standing issues
-Says peace crucial for regional development & stability
-Forms committee to review social media regulations
-Approves ‘historic ‘development package for GB

By Ajmal Khan Yousafzai

Islamabad: Prime Minister Imran Khan has responded to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi’s Pakistan Day message, telling him that the Pakistani people “also desire peaceful, cooperative relations with all neighbours, including India”, it emerged on Tuesday.
The premier wrote this in a letter to the Indian leader, a week after Modi told Imran in a message that his country, being a neighbour, desired cordial relations with the Pakistani people.
“I thank you for your letter conveying greetings on Pakistan Day. The people of Pakistan commemorate this Day by paying tribute to the wisdom and foresight of our founding fathers in envisioning an independent, sovereign state where they could live in freedom and realise their full potential,” Prime Minister Imran wrote in the letter, dated March 29, the Foreign Office confirmed.
“The people of Pakistan also desire peaceful, cooperative relations with all neighbours, including India,” he added.
The Pakistani premier wrote in his letter, in response to an exchange initiated by the Indian head of state, that Pakistan and its people seek to maintain peaceful relations with the neighbours.He wrote that a conducive atmosphere is necessary to have a constructive dialogue for lasting peace and one that produces desired results.
We need to resolve long-standing controversies and disputes so that the resolution of issues and perpetual peace can be conceived in the region. In his letter, Modi had stated that “an environment of trust, devoid of terror and hostility” was imperative for friendly relations between the two countries.
The Indian premier had also conveyed wishes to Imran and the Pakistani people for dealing with the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, terming it a “difficult time for humanity”.
The development had come days after Prime Minister Imran said India would have to make the first move to normalise ties with Pakistan. “We are trying, but India would have to take the first step and unless it does that we cannot move ahead,” the premier said while inaugurating the first edition of the Islamabad Security Dialogue.
The perpetually tense relations between the two countries, which have fought three wars, besides engaging in several episodes of limited conflict, suffered a breakdown after India illegally annexed occupied Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019.
However, the two countries sprung a surprise last month by announcing the resumption of ceasefire at the Line of Control (LoC) after a ‘hotline contact’ between the directors general of military operations of the two countries. Many believe that agreement was made possible through a backchannel, although Pakistani officials strongly deny it.
No violation has since then been reported at the LoC and importantly there has been a visible reduction in rhetoric from both sides. In his speech at the Islamabad dialogue, Prime Minister Imran said the Kashmir issue was the lone irritant standing in the way of better relations between Pakistan and India.
While addressing the same event, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa too stressed the need to resolve the Kashmir dispute through peaceful means, saying: “We feel it is time to bury the past and move forward.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has formed a committee comprising high-ranking officials to review the social media regulations within the country it emerged on Tuesday, informed Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Jawed Khan.
“This is with reference to the consultations undertaken by the Attorney-General for Pakistan with the petitioners who had filed petitions in Islamabad High Court (IHC) and some other parties who expressed interests in deliberations of social media rules namely “the Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards), Rules, 2020,” a statement from the AGP office said. The AGP’s office said Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari would be the committee’s chairperson, with MNA Barrister Maleeka Bokhari, Senator Barrister Ali Zafar, IT secretary, and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) chairman as its members.
The committee will furnish its findings and report back to the PM after one month’s time. It would also hold consultations with the petitioner, Usama Khawar who filed the case in the IHC and relevant stakeholders.
It is pertinent to mention here that the AGP had recommended to PM Imran that broad-based consultations were needed to properly frame comprehensive rules for the regulation of social media within the country. The framework would aim to protect the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and right to information as envisaged under the Constitution of Pakistan, while also ensuring that the platforms are not abused and material is not disseminated in violation of laws.
In February, the IHC had directed the federation to prepare a report within one month time period on social media rules after consulting all stakeholders. The court had asked the attorney general of Pakistan to submit its report by April 2, in this regard. “A verdict on the petitions challenging the policy will be announced once we have seen the report,” the court had maintained.
Chief Justice Athar Minallah had heard the case pertaining to social media rules. At the outset of the hearing, Deputy Attorney General Tayyab Shah had said that the government wanted to take the opinion of all stakeholders, adding that some had been consulted in it. The court had directed the AGP to presents his report within one-month and stated that the court would issue a judgment on petitions regarding social media rules after viewing the report. Prior to the IHC hearing, India had announced its own new rules to regulate big social media firms, such as Facebook and Twitter, in the latest effort by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to tighten control over Big Tech firms.
The rules had come after Twitter ignored orders to drop content on farmers’ protests, fuelling the government’s zeal, dating from 2018, to clamp down on material it regards as disinformation or unlawful. Pakistan has had its own troubles with misinformation being spread, or cultural niceties being usurped, purportedly due to the lack of regulation on social media platforms.
Also, Prime Minister Imran Khan has summoned a meeting of the National Coordination Committee for Covid on Wednesday (tomorrow) as key decisions are expected from the meeting in the wake of rising cases. The NCC meeting summoned by Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has recovered from Covid, will be held at the PM House on Wednesday afternoon.