Transcending borderlines: Peace activists plan Independence Day celebrations at Khokhrapar-Monabao border

Published: August 1, 2013

Small flags and banners to celebrate Independence Day have already gone into print as the nation prepares for 66th Independence Day. Peace activists from India and Pakistan hope to hold joint celebrations at Sindh-Rajasthan border. PHOTO: MOHAMMAD NOMAN/EXPRESS

KARACHI: A group of peace activists from Pakistan are planning to celebrate this Independence Day at the Sindh-Rajasthan border.

At a follow-up meeting to finalise the arrangements for August 14 and August 15, the representatives of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), Peoples SAARC Pakistan Process and Pakistan Peace Coalition vowed to make South Asia a nuclear free and peaceful region.

The meeting was attended by several civil society organisations and rights groups at Piler Centre.

The celebrations, which will include cultural activities on both sides, will be held at the Khokhrapar-Monabao border. The peace activists of both India and Pakistan have shown their enthusiasm to celebrate the two independence days along the Sindh-Rajasthan border, where a large number of peace activists, parliamentarians, civil society representatives, writers and media persons will participate.

The event will be held at the playground of Government High School in Umerkot which has a capacity to hold around 40,000 people. People travelling from outside the city can reach Khokhrapar railway station, which is located about 68 kilometres away from Umerkot city and about 377 km from Karachi. The 15-room school building can also be used as accommodation for guests, if they wish to stay overnight.

Zulfiqar Shah, a joint director of Piler, pointed out that such joint celebrations are held every year at the Wagah-Attari border in the Punjab. This year, they have suggested holding similar celebrations at the borders along Rajasthan and Sindh, as well.

A writer and peace activist from Umerkot, Arbab Abdul Malik, suggested holding the event at Gadro village, which is at the zero point of the Pak-India border. People from both sides will be able to see each other and exchange greetings, he said.

On the two days, the organisers are planning a musical and cultural programme for local folk singers and artists. Theatre performers from Karachi and other parts of Sindh, including Thar desert, will also participate.

Earlier, Piler’s Ishaq Soomro told the participants that a task force on opening up Khokhrapar-Monabao trade route is already working, which is why it was suggested that traders from the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry should also be invited.

Dr Tipu Sultan, who also belongs to the Pakistan Medical Association, shared an initiative of the doctors of South Asia, especially from Pakistan and India, who are working towards convincing their governments to abolish nuclear bombs and weapons of mass destructions for the sake of peace in the region.

Since the doctors of both sides have been involved in treating victims of weapons, they know how dangerous these arms are, he said. “We do not need weapons. Instead we should focus on alleviating poverty.”

Pakistan Doctors for Peace and Development is hosting a two-day regional conference in Karachi on September 27, in which Indian Doctors Forum for Peace and members of other groups from Bangladesh and Nepal are expected to participate. These doctors will focus specifically on weapons of mass destruction and small arms convention.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2013.

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