Pakistan, Bangladesh seek more time on b'cast guidelines

NEW DELHI: Amid clouds of not-so-cordial relationship between India and Pakistan overshadowing crucial matters - like formulating model guidelines for transnational satellite broadcasting - prime minister A B Vajpayee today invited the SAARC countries to participate in India's economy rather than be apprehensive about it.

Pakistan and Bangladesh, however, have sought 45 days time to respond to the draft of a model code for transnational guidelines that has been circulated by India amongst SAARC countries.

Vajpayee was speaking at the inauguration of the third conference of SAARC information ministers here. Vital issues relating to media are slated to be discussed amongst the representatives of the SAARC countries, in the conference.

Pointing out that regional cooperation is a trend in the world which is fast becoming a global village, Vajpayee said, ''It is time we recognise what regional cooperation means for all of us in South Asia. Other alignments will develop to seize the economic opportunities offered by closer integration. We cannot forever be challenging logic and mocking economics.''

Islamabad's refusal to give its nod to the draft circulated by India on model guidelines on transnational satellite broadcasting in the region, which includes free transmission of television broadcasts among member countries, may force the SAARC information ministers conference to put the issue on the backburner, Economic Times reported today.

Reaffirming India's commitment to the effort to build on the commonalities of SAARC nations and their shared aspirations for equitable development, Vajpayee ridiculed the argument that the unequal physical sizes and economic strengths of the countries in the region inhibited equal cooperation.

Briefing newspersons on the day's developments at the SAARC info ministers' meet, information and broadcasting minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in the evening said that many issues are likely to be resolved.

According to Prasad, it has been urged upon Pakistan and other SAARC countries to have a more relaxed visa regime that would promote freer movements of artistes.

He also said that a proposal to hold SAARC film festival should be taken up by the respective countries' culture ministry. At present, in many SAARC nations film did not fall under the information and broadcasting ministry's jurisdiction.

India has been trying to impress upon Pakistan to lift the ban on Indian TV channels and artistes from performing there, though Pakistani artistes are allowed to come to India and not only perform, but also earn a livelihood in our burgeoning entertainment sector. People like Adnan Sami and Zeba Bakhtiar have become an integral part of Bollywood.

However, the Pakistani approach has also caused much heart-burns in the Indian entertainment sector. Some Indian artistes like Abhijeet and Jagjit Singh and filmmakers like Mahesh Bhatt had recently urged the government to ban Pakistani artistes too. The aforementioned trio had also come down some months back to Delhi's Press Club of India to garner support from the media on the issue.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's information minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed today formally invited Vajpayee for the next SAARC Summit to be held at Islamabad in January even as he called for the resolution of ''basic issues'' between 

the two countries.

He extended the verbal invitation to Vajpayee soon after the PM inaugurated the SAARC info ministers meet here today.

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