Almost 250 prominent Pakistanis and Indians have come together to seek peace between the two neighbouring countries.
In a resolution, they call upon “both governments and their security establishments to take all steps possible towards improving relations.”
The statement was initiated on May 5 and since then nearly 250 thought-leaders, journalists, lawyers, activists, filmmakers, physicians and students have endorsed the privately-shared statement.
The signatories recognise the interruption of dialogue between countries due to “jingoistic statements to militant attacks”. However, they now call upon governments of both countries to engage in ‘uninterrupted’ dialogue.
“The traditional response to such disruptions only strengthens those who want continued tensions between our two countries,” the statement read.
Calling for a peaceful subcontinent, the following are some of the demands made in the resolution.
1. 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.
2. Ensure that political leaders, diplomats and civil servants from both countries conduct talks on the side-lines of all international and multilateral forums.
3. 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.
4. Implement the 2003 ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. Increase trade and economic linkages and cultural exchanges between India and Pakistan.
The signatories also asked media houses to “prevent the growing militarisation of debate”. They further asked for a stop to the propagation of hate speech aimed at the other country.
While signatories on both sides know that this statement won’t affect policy between both the countries, they hope it will “serve as a pebble thrown in a pond that will have a ripple effect.”
From Pakistan, prominent 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, Taimur Rahman (Assistant Professor LUMS) and Nasim Zehra (journalist/TV anchor).
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), Admiral L. Ramdas (former Chief of Naval Staff) and Gen. Tej Kaul (Executive President of India Pakistan Soldiers Initiative for Peace (IPSI).
The resolution’s full text can be read here.