Civil society activists in India are hopeful the government led by Nawaz Sharif will work towards improving ties with India, said Delhi Policy Group, Director General Dr Randha Kumar, on Monday. The DPG is a think tank in India.
Kumar is leading a delegation to meet Pakistani women working for peace in the region and held talks with women rights activists and journalists at the HRCP. She said rights activists in India were hopeful the peace process between the two countries would be strengthened under Sharif.
Kumar said all the steps which could ease out tensions between the two countries and strengthen peace building measures were already on their agenda. These included easier visa delivery and improving trade and bilateral cooperation.
Dr Kumar, who has been the interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir for the Indian government and a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations at New York, said women in the region could play a very important role to build peace. She said the process of peace building shouldn’t be left to men alone.
She said her group was engaged in three studies, namely the Role of Women in Peacemaking in Pakistan, Role of Women in Peacemaking in Myanmar and Role of Peacemaking in Afghanistan.
Women rights activist and Afghan’s Women Network member Mahbooba Siraj said that their number one partner in raising a voice against those who usurped the women’s rights was the media. She said there could be no peace building in any country in the long term if women were not involved.
Many people in Afghanistan she said, thought they could send their children to Pakistan for studies, adding that the institutions here should grant scholarships and give opportunities to Afghan girls to get education. This, she said, would ultimately strengthen the voices for peace.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Secretary General IA Rehman said lately Pakistani media had turned into a supportive voice for the women and for those who were working for peace.
A few decades ago there weren’t many non-government organisations to compile data on violence against women but now many newspapers did it on their own, Rehman added.
He also added however, that there was a mindset in the media which called women working for peace or for women rights ‘westernised’.
Former caretaker minister Salima Hashmi said she wasn’t optimistic about the SAARC’s contribution to engage women in peace building but women in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India could make a network and work for peace building.
Former National College of Arts principal Nazish Ataullah, and journalist Hussain Naqi were also present at the meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2013.