Militaries and governments are crushing aspirations of South Asian people in moving freely – Prof Chaman Lal

pakistan-india-1“India’s interest is best served by strengthening the peace and democracy loving constituency in Pakistan.  Can India insulate itself in case there is a civil war in Pakistan? Asked Sumit Chakravarty, editor of Mainstream magazine, speaking at the public rally organized by the Delhi Chapter of the “Pakistan – India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy”.

“Further, instead of closing our borders to Pakistani citizens, we should open up all borders in South Asia. It is people’s free exchange and opportunities for trade that are the best antidotes against extremism and terror” said Chakravarty, addressing the forum.

The public forum was organized at the Press Club of India, in Raisina Road, Delhi on the theme, “Ongoing dialogue between India and Pakistan; the way forward”.

The forum was also addressed by human rights activist and General Secretary of the Indian Chapter of the Forum, Tapan K. Bose who noted that while terror politics represents a growing trend, the peace constituency in Pakistan is also quite strong.

Prof Chaman Lal - JNU

Prof Chaman Lal - JNU

Prof Chaman Lal of the Jawahar Lal Nehru University and Chairperson, Centre of Indian Languages too contributed to the forum as a guest speaker.

Ravi Hemadri, the Joint Secretary of the Delhi Chapter issued the following media release after the conclusion of the forum, that was attended by a large gathering of concerned social and human rights activists.

Press release

New Delhi, 19 Sep. 09

Speakers at a public meeting organised by the Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) stressed that there was no alternative to both India and Pakistan but to engage in serious dialogue. They highlighted the need to end the atmosphere of suspicion that has vitiated the relations between the two countries since the terrorist attack in Mumbai last year.  The fact is that we are neighbours and must therefore engage in direct dialogue.

Speaking at the meeting, Tapan K. Bose, eminent human rights activist and the General Secretary of the India chapter of the Forum said that cessation of dialogue cannot ensure that there will be no future attacks. He deplored that ever since Mumbai attacks, the terrorists have set the agenda for relationship between the two countries. There is now enough evidence that there are terror groups operating from Pakistani soil. Some of them may also have links with the agencies of the Pakistani state. However, while terror politics represents a growing trend, the peace constituency in Pakistan is also quite strong. Mumbai attacks and other similar violence on civilians is condemned by large sections of the Pakistani society. As a part of its Pakistan policy India must not limit itself to address the Pakistani state but adequately express its concern to the plight of the ordinary people there who face terror attacks on a daily basis.

The peace constituency has also grown over the years in India. The very fact that there was no popular support for India to go to war with Pakistan in the aftermath of Mumbai shows the strength of this peace constituency. An attack ten years ago like that happened in Mumbai last year, would have pushed both countries to war. We must not forget that the then government of India almost went to war with Pakistan after the attack on the Indian parliament in 2001.

Pakistani state is reported to be in a crisis. There is a real threat of a civil war breaking out in that country, warned Sumit Chakravarty, editor of Mainstream magazine. He said India’s interest is best served by strengthening the peace and democracy loving constituency in Pakistan.  Can India insulate itself in case there is a civil war in Pakistan? Further, instead of closing our borders to Pakistani citizens, we should open up all borders in South Asia. It is people’s free exchange and opportunities for trade that are the best antidotes against extremism and terror.

Prof Chaman Lal of the Jawahar Lal Nehru University deplored the visa system that exists between nations in South Asia. He argued that India and Nepal allow each other’s citizens to move freely in their countries because a section of the people of Nepal shares a common culture with people of some of the states of India. He asked, is it not the same in the case of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh? He alleged that the militaries and the governments are crushing the aspirations of the people of South Asia to move freely in the entire region.

The joint statement issued by Pakistan and India at Sharm-el-Sheikh was a creative piece of diplomacy to set the dialogue process back on the track. But ever since the joint statement it has been attacked by the rightist parties in India. Fr. T K John of the Vidyajyothi College of Theology said that the ruling party, buckling under the attack, has continuously diluted the spirit and the interpretation of the joint statement.

Ravi Hemadri

Joint Secretary

For further details contact:

Harris Kidwai:   9811081240

Ravi Hemadri :  9871415186

PIPFPD Secretarait – pipfpd@pipfpd.org

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