KARACHI: Amid rising tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, members of the civil society gathered outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Thursday, calling for peace between India and Pakistan and an end to the ongoing war-mongering and jingoism by the media on either side of the border.
"I think for any country, no sensible society would want war. War has never been an answer to our problems," said Sheema Kermani, a peace activist and theatre performer.
Kermani further went on to add, "We want a society that moves forward with good relations with India because we share so much of our history, culture and stories with them."
As a well-known representative of the civil society, the artists' community and women of Pakistan, Kermani has represented Pakistan at many cultural events held in India and has always been a keen supporter of cross-cultural exchange between the two neighbours.
"We should create an atmosphere where both Indians and Pakistans can meet each other regularly, cross our borders and work together for the countries to develop. At this point, our country [Pakistan] needs its budget to be diverted towards education, women's health and development instead of being spent on fighting wars," she said, echoing the earlier statement of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Social activist Qurrat Mirza spoke on why peace was crucial for both India and Pakistan. "We as peace activists are here today because we feel that not only in Pakistan, but even in India, we have friends who think that war is not the solution to our problems but is in fact itself a problem."
Mirza shared the examples of Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam and Yemen where she said that wars had been initiated but it had taken decades to bring peace there. "We think that in a situation of war, no individual country wins because only humanity suffers," she lamented.
Mirza, who was also one of the organisers of the demonstration, said that peace activists had assembled across the country in many major cities such as Islamabad and Lahore and were calling for the governments on both sides to focus on de-escalation and resumption of dialogue.
Zulfiqar Ali Qureshi, a lawyer by profession and self-proclaimed peace activist, said, "Let's do war against poverty, let's do war against unemployment."
Qureshi summed up the demonstration's message in these words: "We as concerned citizens of Pakistan want peace because war only brings death and misery as citizens suffer and are left orphaned and impoverished," he said.
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