Youth and activists of civil society organisations in support of the Pakistan-India peace talks organised a solidarity vigil outside the National Press Club here on Wednesday.
Holding banners and placards inscribed with messages of peace and solidarity among the neighbouring nations, the supporters chanted slogans for putting and end to military hostilities and nuclear race.
“We need peace not war. We need education not weapons,” they chanted. They hoped that the peace talks between the two countries are result-oriented rather than the traditional parlays prevailing for the last many decades.
The vigil was organised by the Progressive Youth Forum while the peace talks between foreign ministers of both countries were in progress.
Talking to The Express Tribune, civil society activist Arshad Mehmood said, “Now it is the right time to take bold steps for both countries as the fruitless wars have destroyed our economies.”
He said we need to remove the “anti-India atmosphere created by the military to continue its hegemony”; the money saved through reduced defence spending could then be channelled towards socio-economic development, he added. “It is time to wage wars, not among ourselves, but against poverty, unemployment and injustice.”
He proposed that both the countries should open special counters at the airports and start issuing visas to promote people-to-people contacts.
Zaheer Abbas, representing Progressive Youth Forum, said that despite many talks between India and Pakistan, there seems to be very little progress on all outstanding issues like Kashmir, Siachin, Sir Creek, water disputes, easing of visa restrictions, removal of trade barriers and cooperation on tackling terrorism. He added that the relations between the two countries remain strained and highly vulnerable to “the evil designs of disruptive forces and terror groups”.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2011.