Saturday, 31 May 2014

Civil society supports move for peace between India and Pakistan

Civil society supports move for peace between India and Pakistan

Karachi, May 30, 2014: The Civil society of Pakistan has welcomed the resumption of peace process between Pakistan and India after the visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the Indian Capital to attend the oath-taking ceremony of the newly elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi early this week.

Expressing deepest appreciation for the unflinching commitment of Pakistan’s PM to extend a hand of friendship to the regional neighbor, despite resistance by an out-dated school of thought still invested in war and violence, the civil society pledged full support to Mr Sharif to lead the peace process, the joint statement issued by Pakistan Civil Societies Forum, Pakistan Peace Coalition and Pakistan Secular Forum here on Thursday.

“A new hope has emerged after the meeting between the two Prime Ministers on May 27, 2014 and this gesture of goodwill should prevail on permanent basis. We welcome the agreement between the two leaders that shall open doors for foreign secretaries’ level talks for reviewing and carrying forward the bilateral agenda,” the joint statement stated.

Members of the civil society of Pakistan appealed to both Indian and Pakistani leaders to start an uninterrupted and uninterruptable dialogue at all levels to resolve longstanding disputes including Kashmir, Sir Creek, withdrawal of armies from Siachin, and easing the visa conditions. They also urged to prioritise the resolution of the issue of fisherpeople’s arrest every few weeks due to accidental crossing of border.

 “The maritime border between Pakistan and India is a disputed territory devoid of any prominent mark to demarcate the two sides. Accidental crossing of the sea border by the fisherpeople of the two countries is therefore a common occurrence. The fisherpeople are detained for many months, sometimes years, till the authorities decide to release them as a “goodwill gesture”. Same is the case with farmers who accidentally cross borders and are arrested on the charge of spying. Their detention and denial of trial indicates that their arrest is more a political move than anything concerned with following the rule of law. The two states must work towards permanently resolving the issue of fisher people’s arrest so that the community that neither has any political influence nor the financial might to find a way out is provided relief.”

The civil society listed enhanced people-to-people contact, increase in bilateral trade, opening up of new trade routes, mutual understandings over issuance of visas to senior citizens and women and children, and free flow of information as necessary steps to create an environment of stability in bilateral exchange and dialogue. The Indian journalists, whose visas have not been extended by the Pakistani government, should be issued necessary visas without delay so that they can discharge their professional duties. More newspapers, TV channels and news agencies should be allowed to send their reporters and photographers across the border so that the public communication and understanding of each other is improved.
With the heavy mandate enjoyed by both Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi in their respective countries, the two leaders have a fresh opportunity to take the peace process forward. “Millions of people in Pakistan and India have been yearning for normalization of relations between the two countries because peace is the most essential prerequisite for the unhindered progress, development and the betterment of the quality of life of the people who live in conditions of abject poverty and misery. The two countries also have a responsibility towards the South Asian region that has been held hostage to India-Pakistan rivalry for far too long. Abandoning a path of confrontation is the only way forward,” the statement concluded.

Released by: 
Shujauddin Qureshi
Co-Manager Programmes (Advocacy and Networking)
Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER)
Gulshan-e-Maymar, Karachi-75340
Ph: +(92-21) 36351145-7
Fax: +(92-21) 36350345
Cell: +(92) 300-3929788

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