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India-Pakistan scribes seek liberalised visa regime

May 22, 2012 15:30 IST

Mediapersons from Mumbai and Karachi press clubs have called for liberalised visa regime for journalists from both countries to ensure free exchange of information.

The demand came at a seminar on 'The role of media in promoting peace in the sub-continent', where the 14-member media delegation from Karachi and Hyderabad (Sindh) participated.

The Pakistani media team arrived on Monday for a week-long visit. A 22-member delegation from Mumbai Press club had visited Karachi and Hyderabad in November last year.

Tahir Hasan Khan, senior reporter of 'The News' and president of the Karachi Press Club said governments of both countries should give multiple entry visas to journalists for at least one year so that they can travel frequently.

Stressing the need for removal of media restrictions, Jatin Desai of Mumbai Press Club said currently only two journalists of other country are allowed to operate in the host country.

"Journalists of 'The Hindu' and PTI have to function from Islamabad and have to take permissions to travel even to Rawalpindi. Similarly, reporters from Pakistan stationed in Delhi cannot travel easily to places like Noida and Gurgaon," he said.

Tahir said if the two countries are considering providing multiple entry visas for businessmen of the two countries, the same should be done for journalists since it would create conducive atmosphere for enduring peace.

Fazil Jamili, editor internet, Jang group of newspapers and the vice president of the Karachi press club, said the bitterness of the partition and the bloodshed that followed has ceased to exist in the new generation of Pakistani journalists.

"We are a liberal media now and the language of hatred is not used while reporting even though it exists in columns and editorials of right wing newspapers," he said.

The language of hatred came from the government text books, which has gradually stopped, he said.

Activist Karamat Ali said the media of the two countries would do a great service if they stop publishing and using language which promotes enemity like referring to each other as "enemies" or even "traditional rivals".

If India is playing a cricket match with some other team, people back home support India, Jamili said. Mumbai Press Club president Gurbir Singh suggested setting of a media working group to pressurise the governments of the two countries to allow free flow of information.

It was also agreed to bring on board press clubs from other cities of both countries in the information exchange programme.

There are a sizeable number of women in Pakistani media. "Even though fewer are seen on field reporting because of irregular working hours, there were large number of them on the desk and magazines," Jamili said.

Shamim Shaikh, senior reporter of 'The News International', said she has been a journalist for 22 years covering courts and religious parties. "I have not faced problems and even religious parties are accepting the fact that there are large number of women in the journalism field," she added.

Tahir said out of the 1,500 members of the Karachi press club, there were more than 250 women.
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