Indian Peace Delegation talked with media and civil society, at Islamabad

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In order to end poverty, hunger, violence against women and marginalized sections, exploitation of workers, especially home-based women workers in India and Pakistan, and in fact, in all the SAARC countries, realization of peace between India and Pakistan is a must. This was an agreed statement by the Indian Peace Delegation and their host civil society organizations, which met the civil society and media at Pothohari Art and Craft Village, Islamabad, today i.e.

Monday, March 21, 2011.
Before talking to media and representative of civil society organizations, the delegation planted trees in Pothohari village and the tree they planted was named as “Tree of Hope”. The Indian peace delegation is being hosted by the some members of the Insani Haqooq Itehad (IHI), namely SUNGI Foundation, SPO, Aurat
Foundation, SDPI, PILER, SAFMA and Pakistan India Peace Peoples Forum for Peace and Development (PIPPFPD). Representatives of electronic and print media organizations and different civil society
organizations were also present on the occasion.

The delegation members reiterated that although there are anti-peace forces in both countries, they also agreed that there is a growing realization among masses and even among the fanatic forces in India
such as BJP that a stable and prosperous Pakistan is in India’s as well as in South Asian region’s interest. “We, the forces of peace and stability, have significantly defeated the forces of fanaticism and extremes” said Mr Janin Desai, an activist-journalist and national Joint Secretary of Pakistan India Peoples Forum for Peace and
Democracy, and bureau member of South Asians for Human Rights.

Chauhdry Manzoor, MNA (PPP) said that he and his party (PPP) believes in the words of Shaheed Benazir Bhuttu who once said that both the government should let the peoples meet freely, and that would bring
peace. He, therefore, supported the idea that visa condition between SAARC countries should abolished. Mr Karamat Hussain from PILER said that the member of SAARC have already ratified a Convention in 1987
which calls for “suppression of terrorism” between the SAARC countries. But so far no mechanism has been developed for implementation of the convention. The delegation and the host civil society organizations demanded that the SAARC members must create a mechanism for the convention to end terrorism in the region. They also urged the SAARC countries to make the convention effective.

They said that all SAARC countries should give MFN status to each other which is obligatory under WTO regime. India has given this status to Pakistan but Pakistan has not given such status to India. Also, a No-war pact is also necessary to seriously pursue the peace agenda in the region. De-nuclearization is must in the region since three generation’s development prospects have been destroyed with the persistence of status-qou adding that we should not spoil the future of our fourth generation. They demanded that basic human principles have to be realized and practiced and both countries should fulfill their commitments with regard to social sector allocations especially in education and health.

They lamented that military and intelligence establishments of both countries have ruined the peace prospects and both the countries have been wasting their numerous resources on defense and security expenditures. They underlined both the countries to cut their defense expenditures and divert those resources for social sector development to bring positive changes in the lives of people especially poor and marginalized. They said that political parties’ in both countries pursue their political agenda in the process but people’s pressure can help to positively engage the political parties to persue a peace and people-centered agenda. However, media has played instrumental role so far and will have to play a key role in future, they urged. One of the civil society representatives said that in order to bring peace in the region, we need cut down the irrational military budgets and strengthen people through democracy.

Pro-people and pro-stability people should cooperate and strengthen each other in both countries to help cooperation and friendship prevail between these two countries to ensure people’s real freedom from hunger, poverty, exploitation, marginalization and discrimination. The pro-peace forces should make the masses aware,
mobilize them and provide them different platforms to raise their voices of friendship and peace. In order to positively influence and make the dialogue process meaningful between the two governments, it is necessary that people on both sides put pressure on their governments so that the governments make decisions and make policies according to peoples wishes and aspirations.

During their informal discussion wit the students of Qaid-e-Azam University, Mr Shahid Siddiqui, former member of Indian parliament, said that anti-peace element in both the countries are interrupting the peace process repeatedly; we need to fight out these anti-peace forces through mass-movement of people. He also said that we the Indian people and parliamentarians want stronger Pakistan and not the weaker; stronger Pakistan would benefit not only Pakistani people but peoples of all SAARC countries.

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