LAHORE: Parliamentarians from Pakistan and India say that defence expenses by the two nuclear neighbours will tell on the well-being of the people.
The continuing arms expenditure by both countries would be to the detriment of welfare of the peoples, they said at the ninth round of Pakistan-India Legislators and Public Officials Dialogue held in Dubai on Tuesday.
The dialogue arranged by the think tank Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat) focused on the theme of sharing of lessons on developments in poverty alleviation in Pakistan and India, says a message received here.
The participants included members of parliament and provincial assemblies of Punjab and Sindh from Pakistan and members of parliament and state legislatures of Delhi and Rajasthan from India. Experts and media representatives from both countries also attended the dialogue.
Pakistan-India legislators dialogue held in Dubai
The participants highlighted that acceleration in economic growth on a sustained basis was an important policy objective for poverty reduction. For this the two countries must introduce reforms in institutions of governance.
The participants from India highlighted the social safety net programmes that have helped alleviate poverty in their country. They said that success also needed to be based on equitable and sustained growth and inclusion of stakeholders other than the government.
The participants from Pakistan showcased economic growth and role of remittances. They also cited some success emanating from targeted-subsidy programmes in reducing poverty. They admitted that such programmes helped meet immediate needs but for a long-term impact, job creation and equal opportunities were also critical.
Both sides also recognised with concern the growing gap in rich and poor segments of society. They highlighted exclusion of the poor in planning and called for an increased focus on expenditures by governments in housing, public health, public education and in other social sectors.
Microfinance and availability of easy and cheap credit can go a long way in providing capital to poor and deprived sections of society for small business enterprises.
Empowerment of women through microfinance has had some success in the region. Both countries must exchange experiences in this regard to optimise its effectiveness, they asserted.
Describing food security as a critical looming challenge for both countries, the participants emphasised on revamping agricultural growth policies that were farmer-friendly and incentivising them as key stakeholders.
They resolved to use their respective linkages with legislatures and professionals to project the content and recommendations for action as given in the joint statement.
Kirti Azad (BJP), Adarsh Shastri and Ajay Dutt (AAP), Mahendra Jeet Singh Malviya (INC), Prof Reetika Khera and others represented India, while Syed Naveed Qamar (PPP), Dr Arif Alvi and Dr Murad Rass (PTI), Azma Bukhari and Malik Mohammad Ahmad (PML-N), Mahtab Akbar Rashdi (PML-F) and Dr Nadeemul Haque, former deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, represented Pakistan in the dialogue.