Nearly 250 activists, journalists, lawyers, filmmakers, students and prominent personalities from India and Pakistan have come together to seek peace across the border. In a resolution that they have released together, they want "both governments and their security establishments to take all steps possible towards improving relations".
The statement said that the dialogue between the countries has been interrupted whenever some form of disruption takes place ranging from 'jingoistic statements to militant attacks'. Therefore, according to the signatories, it's about time that the countries engage in an 'uninterrupted' dialogue.
"The traditional response to such disruptions only strengthens those who want continued tensions between our two countries," the statement read.
From India, the prominent signatories included Mani Shankar Aiyar (writer, former parliamentarian), Mahesh Bhatt (film producer), Prem Shankar Jha (journalist, columnist), Seema Mustafa (journalist), Kamla Bhasin (activist), Kavita Krishnan (Secretary All India Progressive Women's Association), Anuradha Bhasin (Co-chair Pakistan India People's Forum for Peace and Democracy), Jyoti Malhotra (journalist), Maya Mirchandani, journalist (India), Nidhi Razdan (journalist), Nirupama Subramanian (journalist), Admiral L. Ramdas (former Chief of Naval Staff) and Gen. Tej Kaul (Executive President of India Pakistan Soldiers Initiative for Peace (IPSI).
Meanwhile, from Pakistan, the names included, Kishwar Naheed (poet), Asma Jahangir (advocate Supreme Court), Afrasiyab Khattak (ex-Senator), Raza Rumi (Editor Daily Times), Dr Pervez Hoodhboy (physicist/teacher), Karamat Ali (Executive Director PILER), Dr. Ayesha Jalal (Writer / Professor of History), Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa (scholar), Beena Sarwar (journalist), Bushra Gohar (politician, activist), Anis Haroon (activist), Jibran Nasir (activist), Adil Najam (academician), Asma Shirazi (TV anchor), Air Vice Martial Shehzad Chaudhry, TV anchor Ahmed Quraishi and Nasim Zehra (journalist / TV anchor).
Here the some of the demands that these personalities have made.
- Develop an institutionalised framework to ensure that continuous and uninterrupted talks between India and Pakistan take place regularly no matter what. Make dialogue un-interrupted and un-interruptible.
- Ensure that political leaders, diplomats and civil servants from both countries conduct talks on the side-lines of all international and multilateral forums.
- Recognise that the Kashmir dispute above all concerns the lives and aspirations of the Kashmiri people, and work to resolve it through uninterrupted dialogue between all concerned parties.
- Implement the 2003 ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan.
- Renounce all forms of proxy wars, state-sponsored terrorism, human rights violations, cross-border terrorism, and subversive activities against each other including through non-state actors or support of separatist movements in each other's state.
- Support and encourage all forms of people to people contact, and remove visa restrictions and discrimination faced by citizens of both countries. This must be further taken forward to allow visa-free travel between India and Pakistan.
- Increase trade and economic linkages and cultural exchanges between India and Pakistan.
While the organisers are not sure if their statement will make actually make any changes at the policy level, but they sure hope that it will serve as a "pebble thrown in a pond that will have a ripple effect".
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