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16-member Pak media team at Wagah
Visiting J&K for first time after Independence
Pawan Kumar

A 16-member delegation of mediapersons from Pakistan interacts with Indian media at the Wagah joint checkpost on Sunday.
A 16-member delegation of mediapersons from Pakistan interacts with Indian media at the Wagah joint checkpost on Sunday. — Photo by Rajiv Sharma

Wagah, October 3
For the first time in the history of India and Pakistan, a 16-member delegation of Pakistan media led by Mr Imtiaz Alam, secretary-general, Pakistan Chapter of South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA), today crossed over to India through this joint checkpost to visit Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

The delegation will meet leaders belonging to various political parties, including Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, and will be free to meet anyone they wish. Earlier, the journalists from across the border were never allowed to visit Kashmir.

The delegation was accorded warm welcome by Mr K.K. Katyal and Mr Vinod Sharma, president and senior vice-president of the Indian Chapter of SAFMA, respectively.

Mr Imtiaz Alam, while praising the gesture of the Indian Government, said that this decision would go a long way and would strengthen the ongoing process of peace and CBMs. He said earlier the media in Pakistan used to do one-sided reporting on the information provided by the Pakistan and Indian authorities. But now with this visit, he added, mediapersons of Pakistan would be able to report ground realities in Jammu and Kashmir. He said they would “feel” the actual position and bring it before the people of Pakistan. He hoped that when the realities would come before people, the matter of Kashmir would solve naturally.

Mr Katyal denied that the moral of the security forces would be down due to the visit of Pakistan mediapersons to the valley.

He said there was an elected government in the state and this visit would help in bringing truth and ground realities before the court of people. There was nothing to hide, he added. Mr Vinod Sharma said that a delegation of Indian reporters would also likely to visit Pakistan in November this year.

The delegation is likely to meet Mr Sayeed Ali Shah Geelani of the Hurriyat Conference, Mr Yasin Malik of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front and Mr Shahbir Shah of the Democratic Freedom Party. The members are also likely to meet leaders of the BJP and the Panther’s Party, besides the Congress and the People’s Democratic Party in Jammu.

The reporters may also visit a refugee camp for Kashmiri Pandits who were forced to migrate from the valley more than a decade ago.

The delegation includes Rahana Hakim, editor of Newsline, Mariana Babbar and Nusrat Javed from The News, Tariq Maqbool, Naseer Baig Chugtai, Zaved Rashid, Arushah Alam, etc.

The delegation would participate in a regional conference of SAFMA to be held on October 9 and 10 at New Delhi and would return on October 11 or 12. In the meanwhile, a delegation of 36 more journalists would come from Pakistan to participate in the conference on October 7.

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